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I  CANNOT  allow  this  work  to  pass  into  another 
edition  without  some  emendations  and  apolo- 
gies. I  acknowledge  with  sincere  gratitude  the 
consideration  and  kindness  with  which  influential 
journals  like  the  Standard,  the  Telegraph,  the 
Daily  Neios,  the  Echo,  and  almost  all  the  leading 
papers  in  the  three  kingdoms  have  commented 
upon  it.  Some  few  have  been  hypercritical ;  one 
or  two  have  been  unkind ;  but  I  had  counted  the 
cost,  and  have  not  been  disappointed  in  the  result. 
My  position  is  an  assailable  one ;  I  live  in  a  glass 
house,  and  I  could  not  hope  that  every  critic 
would  be  so  generous  as  to  neglect  the  tantalizing 
invitation  to  throw  a  stone  at  me,  and  to  taunt 
me  with  my  own  dereliction  of  duty. 

I  exposed  myself  to  this  kind  of  attack.  I  wrote 
the  book  somewhat  hastily ;  and,  if  I  had  to  write 
it  again,  I  should  write  it  in  a  different  spirit.  I 
had  been  a  prisoner  for  six  years,  and  I  came  out 

6  Convict  Life. 

angry  and  indignant  at  having  been  compelled  to 
live  for  so  long  a  time  amidst  vile  associations. 
I  forgot  for  the  moment  that  my  work  was  self- 
condemnatory  ;  that  by  reckless  wickedness  I  had 
consigned  myself  to  "  Convict  Life."  I  cannot 
help  acknowledging  after  "  sober  second  thought" 
that  there  is  less  excuse  to  be  made  for  me  than 
for  many  of  the  vilest  men  I  have  described,  their 
former  advantages  and  my  own  being  taken  into 

I  will  not  retract  what  I  have  said  about  the 
thief  class,  because  it  is  true.  If  Society  deserves 
more  blame  for  their  condition  than  I  have 
accorded  to  it,  let  Society  look  to  the  matter. 
Society  cannot,  I  fear,  reform  these  men ;  but  it 
can  stop  the  procreation  of  their  species. 

With  regard  to  what  I  have  written  about 
William  E-oupell.  I  think  his  is  an  important 
instance  of  the  favouritism  sometimes  shown  to 
influential  prisoners ;  but  I  will  state  that  I  have 
reason  to  believe  that  Roupell,  sincerely  sorry  for 
the  past,  is  by  an  honourable  life  winning  his  way 
to  the  respect  of  the  generous  and  good. 

I  have  in  several  parts  of  this  book  made  very 
severe  attacks  upon  prison  warders.      On  calm 

Preface  to  the  Revised  Edition. 

reflection  I  see  that  I  was,  perhaps,  too  wholesale  V 
in  my  condemnation.  I  desire  to  state  distinctly 
that  a  large  number  of  the  officers  in  the  Convict 
service  are  conscientious  and  honourable  men,  who 
do  their  duty  to  the  best  of  their  ability,  and  live 
on  their  salaries  alone.  When,  however,  I  stated 
at  page  81  that  every  second  man  had  his  price,  I 
think  I  was  very  near  the  truth ;  and  about  this 
corrupt  portion  of  the  warders  I  have  nothing  to 
withdraw,  retract,  or  modify.  Much  that  I  have 
said  on  this  part  of  the  subject  has  since  been 
confirmed  by  indisputable  evidence. 

I  have  admitted — and  I  deeply  regret  to  have 
had  to  admit — that  I  availed  myself  of  the  offers 
of  a  corrupt  warder  to  serve  me  at  Pentonville. 
I  have  been  credibly  informed  that  this  man  was 
afterwards  detected  in  the  pursuit  of  his  illicit 
trade  and  punished.  The  man  with  the  medals, 
too,  at  Portland,  of  whom  I  told  some  "  strange 
stories,"  at  last  laid  himself  open  to  such  strong 
suspicion  that  he  was  dismissed  the  service. 

Within  the  last  few  months  warders  have  been 
convicted   for   trading  with   prisoners   at  Ports- 
mouth, Chatham,  and  Exeter.     The  most  recent- 
case  occurred  in  January,  1880  : — 

Convict  Life. 

"  John  Phillips,  employed  as  an  assistant  warder  in  the 
local  prison,  was  charged  with  conveying  to  a  convict  forbidden 
luxuries  such  as  tobacco,  note-paper,  envelopes,  and,  most 
coveted  of  prison  delights,  some  newspapers." 

The  easy  way  in  which  these  warders  escape 
when  caught,  does  not  augur  well  for  any  diminu- 
tion of  the  evil.  The  Daily  Telegraph,  in  a  leading 
article  commenting  on  this  case,  says  : — 

"  The  accused  warder  expressed  himself  sorry  for  what  had 
occurred — meaning,  we  may  assume,  that  he  was  sorry  he  had 
been  found  out ;  and  the  Court,  in  spite  of  the  appeal  for  the 
full  penalty  made  by  the  counsel  for  the  Treasury,  fined  the 
ofiending  gaoler  twenty  pounds,  or  three  months'  imprisonment 
with  hard  labour  in  default.  The  money  was  forthcoming, 
and,  therefore,  it  may  be  said  that  the  warder  escaped  heavy 
punishment  for  a  most  serious  breach  of  trust.  The  sentence 
was  totally  inadequate  to  the  offence,  and,  if  repeated,  would 
be  calculated  to  encourage  other  warders  to  take  bribes,  on  the 
chance  that  a  protracted  course  of  evil-doing  might  put  them  in 
possession  of  a  sum  of  money  over  and  above  the  legal  penalty 
of  detection." 

In  the  course  of  the  same  article  the  Telegraph 
thus  refers  to  the  good  understanding  existing 
between  these  corrupt  warders  and  old  thieves, 
upon  which  I  have  commented  : — 

"  The  warders,  as  we  have  pointed  out,  entertain  no  natural 
antipathy  towards  their  charges ;  indeed,  in  the  case  of 
particularly  infamous  criminals,  they  indulge  in  a  species  of 
pride  like  that  felt  by  the  keeper  of  a  menagerie  for  his  wildest 
and  most  carnivorous  beasts." 

Preface  to  the  Revised  Edition.  9 

And  a  description  of  the  convict  witness  who 
appeared  against  the  warder  in  this  Exeter  case, 
would  seem  to  bear  out  what  I  have  said  about  the 
necessity  of  making  convict  work  a  little  harder : — 

'*  A  stalwart  convict,  dressed  in  yellow  jacket,  knicker- 
bockers, blue  woollen  hose,  and  stout  shoef,  with  biretta-like 
cap  cocked  jauntily  on  one  side,  and  swinging  along  with  easy 
sti'ides  at  his  fine-weather  exercise  in  the  open  yard,  suggests 
most  painfully  the  utter  waste  of  a  fine  human  animal." 

The  Telegrajyh  goes  on  very  sensibly  to  ob- 
serve : — 

"  The  luxuries  which,  in  the  majority  of  cases,  convicts 
sinned  to  secure,  are  what  they  most  hanker  for  in  prison,  and 
punishment  would  lose  half  its  pain  if  they  were  able  to  obtain 
forbidden  pleasures." 

At  page  54,  in  speaking  of  a  prisoner  who  was 
in  the  shoemaker's  shop  at  Dartmoor,  who  had 
requested  me  to  carry  a  "  crooked"  message  to 
his  friends,  I  ought,  in  justice  to  myself,  to  say 
that  I  delivered  the  message  to  the  Chief  of  the 
Criminal  Investigation  Department  at  Whitehall 
long  before  the  publication  of  this  book.  The 
name  of  the  old  burglar  spoken  of  at  page  53, 
who  proposed  to  "  operate "  at  Cambridge  on 
his  release,  I  handed  over,  with  all  I  knew  about 
him,  to  the  police  authorities  of  Cambridge. 

10  Convict  Life. 

In  all  that  I  have  said  about  the  necessity  of  a 
classification  of  prisoners,  and  the  importance  of 
a  thorough  and  searching  reform  of  the  Convict 
system,  I  see  nothing  to  modify,  and  nothing  to 
withdraw.  I  have  stated  the  case  truly  and  fairly. 
I  hear  that  a  book  is  announced  by  an  estimable 
and  well-intentioned  gentleman,  which  is  to  white- 
wash the  present  system.  I  sincerely  hope  and 
believe,  that  its  author,  the  Hon.  Lewis  Wingfield, 
will  never  know  any  more  about  the  convict 
system  than  he  does  now,  because  he  can  only 
become  possessed  of  true  knowledge  on  the 
subject  by  bitter  personal  experience. 

I  wrote  this  book  with  a  sincere  desire  to  tell 
the  truth,  and  benefit  the  public.  I  wrote  it 
without  any  sympathy  for  lawbreakers  as  such — 
including  myself  as  one  of  them.  I  tried  to  look 
at  the  subject  with  an  impartial  eye,  and  precisely 
as  I  should  have  viewed  it  in  the  days  of  my 
innocence,  but  with  all  the  knowledge  of  the  real 
facts  which  had  been  gained  by  experience. 

That  either  this  book,  or  something  else,  has 
aroused  in  the  minds  of  the  authorities  a  suspicion 
that  "  there  is  something  rotten  in  the  state  of 
Denmark,"    cannot  be   doubted,    for    since    its 

Preface  to  the  Revised  Edition.  11 

appearance  governors  have  been  transferred  from 
place  to  place,  in  some  cases  very  much  against 
their  inclination ;  orders  have  flown  from  prison 
to  prison,  and  changes  have  been  made  in  the 
administration  of  the  system.  It  remains,  how- 
ever, for  Mr.  Ceoss,  or  his  successor,  to  strike  at 
the  root  of  the  evils  I  have  exposed. 


It  is  hoped  that  these  pages  may  be  read 
with  interest,  not  only  as  a  truthful  record 
of  Convict  Life,  but  also  as  a  contribution 
towards  Convict-Prison  Reform.  The  writer 
has  at  least  one  qualification  entitling  him  to 
express  an  opinion  on  this  important  subject: 
he  writes  —  alas  !  —  from  personal  experience. 
Many  names  which  would  have  added  confir- 
mation to  the  facts  recited,  have  for  obvious 
reasons  been  omitted. 

London,  ZOth  September,  1879., 



Chapter                                                                            '  Pagk 

I. — Introductory 15 

II. — Crime  and  Criminals 22 

III. — Convict  Labour  and  Convict  Association    -  45 

IV. — Prison  Life — Convicts  and  their  Guardians  80 

V. — Convicts  and  their  Guardians  (continued)    -  98 

VI. — Convicts  and  their  Guardians  :  Prison  Pun- 
ishments, &c. 122 

VII. — Reformatory  and  Sanatory          -        -        -  163 

VIII. — Report  of  the  Commission    -        -        -        -  199 

IX. — Suggestions  and  Summary     -        -        .        .  235 

Postscript 245 




I'N  the  following  pages  I  intend  to  expose 
some  of  tlie  evils  connected  with  the  English 
convict  system,  and  in  the  interests  of  society  to 
suggest  some  remedies.  I  must  be  very  candid 
at  the  outset  and  confess  that  all  the  knowledge 
I  possess  on  this  subject  has  been  gained  by  a 
sad  and  bitter  experience.  After  living  up  to 
middle  life  in  the  character  of  a  gentleman,  and 
with  the  reputation  of  an  honourable  man,  I  was 
weak  enough  to  allow  a  terrible  domestic  afflic- 
tion to  drive  me  into  dissipation,  and  the  end  of 
my  madness  was  the  committal  oE  an  act  for 
which  the  law  claimed  me  as  its  victim.  An 
English  judge,  who  has  since  gone  to  that 
bourn  from  which  not  even  judges  return, 
thought    it    to    be    his   duty,   for  the    sake   of 

16  Convict  Life. 

example,  to  send  a  man  of  some  respectability 
and  education,  and  who  liad  never  before 
darkened  the  doors  of  a  police-court,  to  herd 
with  professional  thieves  in  penal  servitude  for 
seven  years. 

I  will  not  say  that  I  did  not  deserve  this 
sentence,  for  I  look  back  upon  my  own  mis- 
conduct with  feelings  of  shame,  horror,  and 
disgust ;  I  did  deserve  severe  punishment,  but 
I  feel  bound  to  say,  in  the  interests  of 
society  and  the  taxpayer,  that  six  months  of 
solitary  confinement,  with  assiduous  labour, 
rough  food,  and  a  hard  bed,  would  have  been 
quite  as  efficacious,  and  would  not  have  ex- 
posed me  to  the  evil  influences  and  vile  asso- 
ciations which  have  surrounded  me  during  the 
past  six  years,  and  which  it  has  required  no 
small  amount  of  moral  courage  on  my  part  to 
withstand.  Not  very  long  ago  I  was  released 
upon  licence,  or  what  is  generally  known  as  a 
''ticket  of  leave.'*  I  have  stated  these  facts 
that  my  readers  may  be  assured  that  I  know 
something  of  the  subject  upon  which  I  am 
writing.  I  know  that  I  have  degraded  myself, 
that  I  have  sinned  against  society,  and  that 
however  deep   and   sincere  my  repentance,  the 

Introductory.  17 

Pharisees  of  society  will  never  forgive  me.  At 
the  same  time  I  feel  that  I  shall  reheve  my  own 
conscience,  and  make  some  atonement,  if  I  can 
succeed  in  showing  how  impotent  is  the  law,  as 
it  at  present  stands,  to  reform  criminals  and 
reduce  their  number. 

I  may  as  well  say  at  the  outset  that  in  the 
complaints  I  may  make  of  the  working  of  the 
present  system,  and  the  suggestions  I  may  offer 
for  its  reform,  I  am  actuated  by  no  feelings  of 
tenderness  for  that  ruffian  class,  who,  because 
they  ivill  drink  and  will  not  work,  exist  from 
childhood  to  old  age,  by  committing  outrages  upon 
their  fellow-creatures,  and  by  filching  from  them 
the  proceeds  of  honest  labour  and  enterprise. 

I  regret  to  have  to  acknowledge  that  in  this 
evening  of  the  nineteenth  Christian  century  such 
a  class  does  exist  in  England,  and  that  its  name 
is  Legion.  I  have  been  brought  into  close  contact 
with  hundreds  of  its  members  during  my  in- 
carceration. They  are  unanimous  in  asserting 
that  "  they  have  never  robbed  a  man  of  a  day's 
work  by  doing  one  themselves,  and  that  they  never 
will;"  but  the  i^oceeds  of  that  labour,  or  any 
other  property  which  they  can  appropriate,  either 
by  sneaking  trickery  or  brutal  violence,  they  look 

18  Convict  Life. 

upon  as  fair  game;  and,  by  some  mysterious 
delusion  which  seems  to  obfuscate  their  mental 
and  moral  senses,  I  almost  believe  that  they  are 
sincere  in  regarding  the  law  which  punishes  them 
as  a  persecutor  and  a  tyrant.  In  speaking  of 
themselves  they  invariably  claim  affiliation  with 
the  working  classes,  ignoring  altogether  the  self- 
evident  fact,  that  the  security  afforded  by  the 
law  to  property  is  more  important  and  necessary 
to  the  working  man  than  to  the  millionaire. 

I  think  it  was  Jeremy  Bentham  who  said  that 
the  law  does  not  profess  to  give  men  property, 
but  it  gives  them  a  security  for  the  safe-keeping 
of  their  honestly-acquired  possessions.  "With- 
out the  law  there  would  be  no  security  for  the 
acquirements  of  the  enterprising  merchant,  for 
the  furniture  of  the  poor  man^s  cottage,  or  for  the 
results  of  a  week  of  honest  toil.  Bentham's  own 
words  just  occur  to  me  :  "  Without  law  there  is 
no  security  ;  consequently  no  abundance,  nor 
even  certain  subsistence.  And  the  only  equality 
which  can  exist  in  such  a  condition  is  the  equality 
of  misery." 

I  think  that  miscreants  who  prefer  thieving  to 
work,  and  whose  consciences  are  so  elastic  that 
they   **  make   no    bones "    about    systematically 

Introductory.  Id 

appropriating  the  results  of  the  industry  of 
honest  men,  should  not  be  pampered.  I  think 
they  should  be  made  to  feel,  and  to  feel  acutely, 
that  *'  the  way  of  the  transgressor  is  hard."  I 
have  nothing  m  common  with  those  who  try  to 
create  any  sympathy  for  thieves  on  account  of 
the  hideous  dress  they  have  to  wear,  or  because 
their  hair  is  cropped,  or  their  beds  hard,  or  their 
beef  tough.  I  have  lived  among  these  thieves*^ 
for  six  years,  and  for  the  future  I  shall  close  my 
ears  to  all  such  claptrap  complaints.  A  man 
who  lives  for  no  other  purpose  and  with  no  other 
object  than  to  break  the  laws  of  his  country  has 
no  right  to  expect  "  kid-glove  treatment,''  and  I 
do  not  think  should  be  allowed  to  revel  in  the 
luxuries  which  may  be  obtained  at  "  Blanchard's" 
or  the  "  Star  and  Garter.'* 

In  the  outside  world  the  great  object  of  his  life 
has  been  to  live  without  work,  and  to  obtain 
dishonestly  the  means  of  pampering  his  appetite. 
The  professional  thief  has  no  higher  aspiration 
than  to  gratify  his  animal  nature,  and  if  he  could 
do  this  in  prison,  incarceration  would  be  no 
punishment  to  him.  The  law  acts  wisely  in  de- 
priving thieves  of  alcohol  and  tobacco,  and  in 
giving   them   only   so   much   as  is  necessary  of 

c  2 

20  Convict  Life, 

coarse  and  wholesome  food ;  but  it  ought  to  go 
further  than  this,  and  compel  all  prisoners  to 
earn  their  subsistence,  unless  they  are  physically 
incapacitated  for  so  doing.  They  should  be 
taught  the  value  and  the  importance  of  work, 
and  be  allowed  by  their  own  industry  to  pro- 
vide a  fund  with  which  to  begin  the  world 
afresh  when  they  are  released.  I  am  very  well 
aware  that  there  is  a  very  large  class  of  pro- 
fessional criminals  upon  which  no  system  can 
hope  to  work  any  reform ;  and  that  brings  me 
to  the  great  and  crying  evil  of  the  existing 
organization, — the  indiscriminate  association  of 
prisoners.  At  present  the  EngHsh  convict 
prisons  are  breeding-dens  for  the  procreation 
of  professional  thieves.  A  boy  who  has  com- 
mitted a  drunken  assault  is  placed  under  the 
tuition  of  the  hero  of  a  hundred  burglaries. 
"  Hodge,"  who  during  his  previous  life  has 
been — in  a  Carlylean  sense — a  rehgious  man, 
and  has  existed  upon  the  proceeds  of  "divine 
labour,"  goes  to  Portland,  and  is  there  initiated 
into  the  mysteries  of  an  art  which,  upon  his 
release,  will  enable  him  to  live  upon  the  labour 
of  others. 

A  London  clerk   (perhaps   an   underpaid  one 

Introd^tctory.  21 

and  with  a  large  family)  has  forgotten  for  a 
moment  that  "honesty  is  the  best  policy." 
His  associations  up  to  the  time  of  his  "lapse" 
had  been  moral  and  virtuous.  In  a  weak  mo- 
ment he  takes  a  stray  sovereign  from  the  petty- 
cash  drawer.  He  is  sent  to  Dartmoor,  and 
upon  his  release — thanks  to  the  good  fellow- 
ship of  the  men  amongst  whom  the  Govern- 
ment places  him  for  punishment  and  reform — 
he  is  able  to  open  a  cash-box,  and  close  it 
again,  without  the  use  of  a  key.  I  propose  in 
the  following  pages  to  expose  these  evils  and 
to  suggest  some  remedies  for  them. 

22  Convict  Life. 


CRIME     AND     CEIMINALS.     ' 

IT  may  be  interesting  to  take  a  rapid  glance  at 
the  various  classes  of  criminals  with  which  the 
law  has  to  deal.  In  the  front  rank  there  is  a 
class,  happily  few  in  number,  who  become  thieves 
from  a  sheer  lack  of  conscience;  men  who  do 
not  act  under  the  influence  of  liquor,  and  who 
are  not  prompted  by  the  goadings  of  poverty, 
but  who,  seeing  that  they  can  with  ease,  or  by 
the  use  of  a  little  chicanery,  possess  themselves 
of  the  property  of  others,  allow  no  feelings 
of  honour  or  justice  to  stand  in  their  way.  I 
have  no  doubt  that  envy  is  one  of  the  most 
powerful  incentives  to  crime  with  this  class. 
Fortunate  circumstance,  or  accident,  has  thrown 
them  into  the  society  of  men  whose  means  are 
greater  than  their  own ;  they  immediately  imbibe 
a  desire  to  rival  their  associates  in  luxury  and 
display,  and,  having  no  moral  principles  to  re- 

Grime  and  Criminals.  23 

strain  them,  do  not  hesitate  to  take  a  short  but 
crooked  cut  to  wealth. 

There  have  been  many  examples  of  this  class 
in  very  recent  times.  Amongst  the  moat  notable 
are  Redpath,  Paul,  William  Roupell,  and  the  four 
Yankees  who  in  1873  made  so  formidable  a 
raid  upon  the  Bank  of  England.  I  must  admit, 
that  I  can  draw  no  moral  distinction  between 
these  men  and  the  midnight  burglar.  Catherine 
Webster  certainly  adopted  a  more  coarse  and 
brutal  method  of  obtaining  what  did  not  belong 
to  her ;  but,  if  weighed  against  one  of  the  dis- 
tinguished criminals  I  have  named,  the  circum- 
stances and  advantages  of  each  being  taken  into 
account,  I  am  inchned  to  think  that  the  balance 
would  be  in  the  woman's  favour.  The  man  who 
deliberately  and  in  cold  blood,  and  with  no  ex- 
cuse of  poverty  or  temporary  distress  to  urge 
him,  but  merely  for  the  sake  of  personal  aggran- 
disement, and  to  gratify  his  pride  and  love  of 
luxury  and  display,  systematically  plots  to  rob 
and  defraud  others,  forfeits,  I  think,  all  claim  to 
mercy  on  account  of  his  social  position,  and  may 
be  safely  and  justly  consigned  to  the  same  de- 
scription of  punishment  as  awaits  the  highway 

24  Convict  Life. 

Lower  down  in  the  social  scale,  but  standing 
morally  upon  the  same  platform,  is  that  great 
class  which  seems  to  increase  every  year  in  the 
/  same  ratio  as  the  population.  Stealing  is  to  a 
^  very  great  extent  hereditary  in  England.  There 
are  thousands  of  thieves  to-day  whose  fathers 
and  mothers  were  as  familiar  with  the  interior  of 
half  the  prisons  of  England  as  they  are.  Many 
of  them  were  born  in  prison ;  many  more  in  the 
workhouse ;  and  nearly  all  of  them  have,  from 
their  very  cradle,  lived  in  an  atmosphere  of  vice. 
Whether  the  law  has  fulfilled  its  duty  to  society 
in  allowing  well-known  and  habitual  criminals  to 
have  charge  of  their  offspring,  and  to  train  them 
as  lawbreakers,  is  a  question  I  cannot  now  enter- 
tain ;  but  we  all  know  that  it  does  allow  it,  and 
makes  no  attempt  to  interfere,  until  it  is  called 
upon  to  punish.  A  clever  professional  thief 
whom  I  met  at  Portland  two  years  ago,  and  who 
hailed  from  Birmingham,  told  me  that  he  got  his 
first  lessons  in  filching  from  his  mother.  His 
father,  he  told  me,  was  an  "  honest  working 
man,"  and  was  porter  in  a  grocery  establishment. 
This  father  was  always  "square,"  never  com- 
mitting himself,  or  falling  into  the  hands  of  the 
police.     His  mother  had  made  a  pair  of  drawers 

Crime  and  Criminals.  25 

wliicli  were  double,  and  formed  a  sort  of  bag; 
into  these  drawers  the  father  used  to  drop  any 
stray  tea  or  coffee  with  which  he  came  in  contact 
in  the  course  of  his  duties,  and  which  he  thought 
would  not  be  needed  by  his  employer.  When,  as 
often  happened,  the  quantity  brought  home  was 
too  large  for  the  requirements  of  the  family,  it 
was  disposed  of  to  a  neighbouring  puhlican  in 
exchange  for  a  beverage  which  inspired  this  honest 
working  man  with  courage  to  obtain  fresh  sup- 
plies. This  thief  asserted  that  publicans  in  a  very 
poor  neighbourhood  could  generally  be  trusted, 
and  were  never  so  inquisitive  as  other  people. 

The  idea  of  morality  entertained  by  this  class 
may  be  judged  of  from  the  fact  that  this  prisoner 
used  to  boast  that  his  father  was  a  very  "  square" 
man;  what  he  meant,  of  course,  was  that  he 
had  never  been  caught.  The  mother,  who  was 
his  tutor,  he  admitted  was  crooked,  and  had  been 
in  prison  more  than  once.  When  my  informant 
was  a  child  of  five,  he  would  be  taken  by  this 
mother  to  a  shoe-shop  on  a  busy  Saturday  night. 
The  woman  would  be  difficult  to  fit,  and  whilst 
the  shopman  was  employed  in  searching  for  the 
necessary  size,  the  child,  who  sat  upon  the  floor, 
was  attaching  to  some  hooks  under  his  mother's 

26  Convict  Life. 

dress  two  or  three  pairs  of  shoes.  These  acts  of 
dexterity,  which,  of  course,  had  been  rehearsed 
at  home,  were  rewarded  by  presents  of  candy 
and  halfpence,  and,  in  obedience  to  the  in- 
flexible law  of  cause  and  effect,  the  son,  as  he 
grew  into  manhood,  became  an  accomplished 
professional  thief.  My  prison  experiences  have 
taught  me  that  this  is  no  solitary  case,  but  merely 
an  example  of  every-day  life.  Many  of  this 
thief-class  come  into  the  custody  of  the  police  as 
mere  children ;  but  they  either  escape  with  some 
slight  punishment,  and  return  to  their  old  haunts, 
or,  if  sent  to  a  reformatory-school,  they  are 
thrown  into  close  association  with  a  few  hundred 
other  young  thieves,  who,  like  themselves,  have 
been  spawned  upon  the  dunghills  of  our  great 
cities;  who  have,  like  themselves,  been  left  by 
the  Law  itself  to  grow  up  under  the  maternal  wing 
of  thieves  ;  and  who  have  sucked  vice  into  their 
^  nature  from  degraded  mothers,  whose  breasts 
have  at  the  same  time  inoculated  their  physical 
system  with  poisoned  gin. 

"With  such  an  education  as  I  have  indicated,  it 
is  not  very  singular  that  the  hereditary  English 
thief  should  develop  into  a  villain  of  the  very 
deepest  dye,  which  he  certainly  does. 

Crime  and  Criminals.  27 

My  sincere  conviction,  after  six  years  of  life 
amongst  them,  is,  that  as  a  class,  and  with  very 
few  exceptions,  they  are  utterly  and  irreclaimably 
lost.  They  are  so  vile,  and  so  filthy,  that  no  re-  \J 
forma tory  system  under  God's  sun  would  have  the 
slightest  chance  of  inspiring  their  cursed  natures 
with  one  pure  thought  or  one  honest  aspiration. 
I  had  almost  said,  it  would  be  a  bright  day  for 
England  if  four  or  five  thousand  of  the  wretches 
now  confined  in  convict  prisons  could  be  embarked 
in  the  Great  Eastern,  towed  into  mid-ocean,  and 
sunk  in  its  fathomless  depths.  I  have  no  expecta- 
tion that  the  British  Government  will  adopt  this 
summary  method  of  disposing  of  them,  and  I  shall, 
therefore,  in  another  chapter  suggest  some  more 
tangible  scheme  which  will  relieve  society  of 
this  intolerable  incubus.  I  hope  also  by-and-by 
to  expose  some  of  the  tricks  and  dodges  by  which 
thieves  defraud  the  public.  In  this  place  I  must 
confine  myself  to  a  description  of  their  moral 
characteristics.  They  are,  in  a  word,  dead  to  all 
sense  of  shame.  They  are  cowardly  brutes,  and 
their  animal  instincts  have  crowded  every  human 
feeling  out  of  their  nature.  They  have  all  the 
same  "leary"  look,  and  an  unmistakable  cunning 
stares  at  you  out  of  every  feature.     They  have 

28  Convict  Life, 

all  been  educated  in  Government  schools;  for, 
after  emerging  from  the  reformatory,  they  have 
graduated  under  the  aegis  of  those  licensed-dens 
of  infamy,  the  public-house  and  the  gin-palace, 
from  the  profits  of  which  England  derives  so 
large  a  portion  of  her  revenue.  I  am  not  a 
professed  teetotaler,  but  compulsory  association 
with  the  brutes  that  have  been  created  and 
reared  under  the  immediate  influence  of  whisky- 
shops,  has  forced  me  to  the  conclusion  that 
to  keep  an  establishment  where  liquors  are 
sold  over  a  bar  to  be  drunk  on  the  premises  is 
about  the  meanest  thing  a  man  can  do  in  this 
world  to  obtain  a  living.  But  to  go  back  to  the 
character  of  these  professional  thieves.  They 
are  entirely  destitute  of  all  manliness.  They 
could  no  more  stand  up,  self-supported,  than 
the  ivy  could  rear  itself  like  the  oak.  They 
are  equally  destitute  of  natural  and  acquired 
strength.  They  approach  most  thoroughly  to  the 
idea  of  universal  and  consummate  depravity. 
They  think  nothing  of  passing  their  lives  in 
inflicting  misery  upon  their  fellow-creatures,  and 
they  do  it  not  only  with  satisfaction,  but  with  a 
hideous  rapture.  If  they  can  commit  robberies 
without  violence,  they  only  prefer  to  do  so  be- 

Grime  and  Criminals.  29 

cause  they  avoid  all  risk  of  the  "  cat,"  which  is 
the  only  thing  they  fear,  and  which  I  think, 
therefore,  should  be  liberally  administered ;  but  if 
the  robbery  cannot  be  effected  quietly  they  do  not 
scruple  to  use  the  knife  or  the  bludgeon,  buoying 
themselves  up  with  the  hope  that  they  will  escape 
detection,  which  three  times  out  of  four  they  do. 
Their  social  habits  are  as  filthy  inside  the  prison, 
as  no  doubt  they  are  in  the  rookeries  which  they 
call  their  homes.  They  have  a  strange  disposi- 
tion to  filthiness  and  dirt  in  all  senses  of  the 
words,  and  the  hog  is  a  sweeter  animal  by  far. 
They  have  also  a  penchant  for  horrible  vices, 
which  I  regret  to  say  they  get  opportunities  to 
commit,  even  in  what  are  called  "  separate 
prisons."  I  am  certain  that  if  the  sensuality,  the 
poltroonery,  the  baseness,  the  effrontery,  the 
mendacity,  and  the  barbarity  which  distinguish 
the  every-day  life  of  these  professional  thieves 
were  depicted  in  the  character  of  a  hero  in  a 
criminal  romance  it  would  be  set  down  as  a 
caricature.  I  am  not  exaggerating  :  I  solemnly 
declare  that  whatsoever  things  are  unjust,  what- 
soever things  are  filthy,  whatsoever  things  are 
hateful  and  fiendish,  if  there  be  any  vice  and 
infamy  deeper  and  more  horrible  than  all  other 

30  Convict  Life. 

vice  and  infamy,  it  may  be  found  ingrained  in 
the  character  of  the  Enghsh  professional  thief. 
Compared  with  him  GuUiver's  "  Yahoos  "  were 
cultivated  gentlemen. 

Whenever  these  hopefuls  are  caught  and  drafted 
into  a  convict  prison,  they  set  their  cunning  to 
work  to  pass  what  they  call  an  "  easy  lagging," 
and  the  truth  is,  that  they  get  through  their 
sentences  with  less  than  half  the  difficulty  and 
less  than  half  the  punishment  experienced  by 
green  hands  such  as  I  was.  They  become  the 
tools  of  the  turnkeys,  many  of  whom,  I  regret  to 
say,  possess  no  very  high  principles  of  morality. 
They — these  adepts  in  crime — lend  themselves 
as  tools  to  the  lower  class  of  turnkeys  in  catching 
unawares  the  amateurs  in  any  breakage  of  the 
prison  rules ;  in  fact,  caged  and  no  longer  able  to 
prey  upon  society  out-of-doors,  they  descend  to  a 
vocation  compared  with  which  even  the  life  of  a 
pickpocket  or  a  pimp  is  honourable.  I  have  not 
quite  done  with  them ;  I  have  to  cap  the  climax. 
Add  to  this  glorious  assemblage  of  quahties,  a 
high  profession  of  contrition  and  piety  whenever 
the  prison  chaplain  approaches  them ;  an  anxious 
desire — of  course  to  serve  some  cunning  end — 
to  partake  as  often  as  possible  of  the  Sacrament 

Crime  and  Criminals.  31 

of  the  "Lord's  Supper;"  to  be  prominent  mem- 
bers of  tbe  church  choir ;  to  be  loud  in  their 
responses,  and  to  attract  the  notice  of  governors 
and  chaplains  by  the  obtrusive  reverence  of 
their  behaviour  in  church,  and  I  think  you  have 
an  effect  which  is  overpowering. 

I  am  anxious  that  my  readers  should  keep  the 
character  of  this  class  in  their  mind  when  they 
come  to  read  what  I  have  to  say  by-and-by  about 
the  indiscriminate  association  of  prisoners,  be- 
cause it  should  be  remembered  that  this  is  by 
far  the  most  numerous  of  the  different  classes  of 
prisoners  which  the  law  has  to  take  care  of;  and 
having  described  their  characters,  I  need  hardly 
add  that  in  every  prison  they  are  the  ruling 
power,  the  reigning  influence,  the  active 

Then  the  law  has  to  deal  with  another  class 
of  criminals  for  whom  I  would  ask  neither  con- 
sideration nor  mercy,  miscreants  who  seem  dead 
to  the  commonest  and  most  natural  instincts  of 
humanity, — men  and  women  who  are  guilty  of 
the  most  hideous  and  barbarous  crimes,  acts  of 
violence  and  brutality  which  are  truly  appalling 
in  their  nature.  Some  of  my  readers  will  recol- 
lect the  circumstance  of  the  "  Penge  murder  " 

32  Convict  Life. 

not  quite  two  years  ago  ;  a  case  in  which  two 
men  and  two  women  conspired  to  starve  to  death  a 
half-witted  relative,  and  who  actually  made  them- 
selves merry  within  the  sound  of  her  dying  cries. 
One  of  these  wretches,  Patrick  Staunton,  was  a 
fellow-prisoner  of  mine  at  Dartmoor,  and  I  saw 
him  not  long  ago  snivelling  and  crying  because 
he  had  to  eat  his  bread  without  butter,  and 
because  he  was  made  to  perform  a  little — and  a 
very  little — light  labour.  I  ask  no  consideration 
or  mercy  for  monsters  of  this  sort,  the  law  cer- 
tainly does  not  deal  too  hardly  with  them.  This 
Patrick  Staunton  is  always  running  after  the 
prison  doctor,  and  begging  for  medicine  and 
relief  from  work.  The  medicine  I  would  have 
administered  to  reptiles  of  the  Patrick  Staunton 
class  would  be  "three  dozen"  at  the  triangle 
when  the  sun  dawns  upon  the  first  of  every 

But  now  let  me  turn  to  classes  for  whom  I 
would  claim  some  consideration,  and  who  ought 
not  to  be  considered  as  habitual  criminals  or  be 
dealt  with  as  such.  There  is,  first  of  all,  the 
man  of  education  and  culture,  who,  perhaps  in  the 
presence  of  some  great  calamity,  or  from  mis- 
fortunes in  his  business,  or   to  ward  ofi*  poverty 

Grime  and  Griminals.  33 

from  those  nearest  and  dearest  to  him,  in  some 
rash  moment,  and  after  a  life  of  sterling  honesty 
and  integrity,  commits  one  act  of  dishonesty. 
I  am  reminded  of  cases  now,  where,  if  a  little 
time  had  been  given  and  a  little  consideration 
extended,  men  with  honest  hearts,  who  are  now 
in  penal  servitude,  might  have  refunded  money 
which  they  were  induced  to  take,  and  have  been 
living  in  happiness  and  respectability  with  their 
families.  I  know  one  man  now  at  Portland  under 
a  long  sentence,  who  was  the  post-master  of  a 
northern  town.  He  was  one  of  the  most  guileless 
men  I  ever  knew.  I  thoroughly  believe  that  he 
would  rather  die  than  defraud  a  man  of  a  penny. 
He  had  a  brother  who  was  dear  to  him,  but  not 
in  so  good  a  position  as  himself.  The  brother 
came  from  a  distant  town  one  morning,  wanting 
a  hundred  pounds  in  a  hurry  to  save  his  home 
from  destruction  and  his  furniture  from  the 
auctioneer's  hammer.  The  post-master  had 
investments  which  he  could  not  immediately 
realize.  He  did  not  expect  a  visit  from  the  Post- 
office  Surveyor  for  ten  days.  He  borrowed  the 
Post-office  money  to  save  his  brother.  Without 
doubt,  if  things  had  taken  their  usual  course,  he 
would  have  replaced  the  money. 


34  Convict  Life. 

Unfortunately  for  him  the  Surveyor — perhaps 
receiving  a  hint  from  the  proverbial  "  good- 
natured  friend  "  who  wanted  the  post-mastership 
— turned  up  the  next  day,  the  money  was  not 
forthcoming,  and  the  poor  post-master  got  either 
ten  or  twelve  years,  I  forget  which. 

I  know  another  prisoner  at  Portland  under  a 
long  sentence;  I  believe  him  to  be  one  of  the 
purest-minded  and  most  honest-hearted  men  in 
the  world.  His  character  up  to  the  time  of  the 
act  for  which  he  was  convicted  had  been,  perhaps, 
as  spotless  as  that  of  the  best  of  the  human 
family.  His  brother  is  a  partner  in  an  old- 
established  firm  of  high  respectability  in  Picca- 
dilly. His  son  has,  during  his  father's  incar- 
ceration, passed  through  one  examination  after 
another  in  his  chosen  profession  with  distin- 
guished honour.  I  shall  not  easily  forget  the 
emotion  of  my  poor  prison  friend,  when  reading 
the  letters  which  conveyed  to  him  the  news  of  his 
dear  son's  success,  and  which  told  how  good  God 
had  been  to  his  loved  wife  and  daughters  in  his 

absence.      I  cannot  help   believing   that  A 

was  a  good  father  and  a  good  man.  He  was  in 
a  position  of  trust ;  one  day,  in  an  evil  moment 
for  him,  and  in  his  anxiety  to  shield  the  family  of 

Grime  and  Criminals.  35 

an  old  friend  from  disaster,  he  took  money  wliicli 
did  not  belong  to  him.  He  took  it  for  an  act  of 
charity ;  he  took  it  knowing  that  he  could  repay 
it;  but,  in  doing  so,  he  no  doubt  acted  dishonestly, 
and  he  had  to  pay  the  penalty. 

I  know  of  many  similar  cases,  but  I  will  not 
detail  them  now.  I  do  not  wish  to  be  misunder- 
stood. I  make  no  apology  for  the  acts  of  these 
men.  They  make  none  for  themselves.  They  are 
convinced,  as  I  am,  that  it  is  the  duty  of  the  law 
to  punish  in  such  cases.  Unless  it  were  to  do  so 
there  would  be  no  security  for  property  of  any 
sort.  But  there  are  degrees  of  guilt ;  and  I 
venture  to  suggest  that  this  class  of  men  are  not 
abandoned  and  hardened  and  hopeless  criminals, 
and  should  not  be  dealt  with  as  such.  I  am  quite 
sure  that  six  months  of  imprisonment  would  be  to 
such  men  a  much  more  severe  punishment  than 
seven  years  of  penal  servitude  is  to  an  old  thief. 
To  a  man  of  education  and  respectability,  who 
has  for  once  yielded  to  temptation — and  surely  to 
err  is  human — the  very  first  result  of  his  act  is 
almost  a  suflBcient  punishment.  He  commits  a 
moral  suicide ;  he  entails  upon  himself  ruin  and 
disgrace,  often  the  loss  of  friendship  on  the  part 
even  of  his  relatives ;    he  is  torn  from  all  that 

D  2 

36  Convict  Life. 

makes  life  dear  to  him;  to  say  nothing  of  the 
hell  of  remorse  with  which  a  man  of  any  culture 
and  refinement  is  haunted  in  the  seclusion  of 
his  prison  cell  when  he  contemplates  his  own 

I  repeat,  that  I  make  no  apology  for  the  acts 
of  this  class  of  prisoners;  but  they  are  not  brutes, 
they  are  not  monsters,  they  are  far  different  to 
habitual  criminals,  or  professional  thieves.  They 
are  erring  men,  in  nearly  every  case  deeply  sensible 
of  their  guilt,  and  deeply  penitent.  This  class  of 
men  never  offend  a  second  time ;  and  I  do  not 
think  it  necessary  in  the  interests  of  law  and 
order  that  they  should  be  treated  as,  or  herded 
with,  professional  thieves  and  red-handed  mur- 

It  should  be  remembered,  too,  that  amongst 
those  who  are  convicted  for  the  first  time,  the 
law  often  has  within  its  clutches  men  who  are 
innocent.  The  case  of  Habron  is  too  fresh  in 
the  memory  of  the  public  to  need  remark  here ; 
but  his  was  not  a  solitary  case. 

A  few  weeks  ago,  Mr.  Cross,  acting  in  the 
interests  of  justice,  found  it  desirable  to  release 
another  man,  who  for  four  years  had  been 
separated   from  a  newly-married  and    sorrowful 

Crime  and  Criminals.  37 

young  wife,   and   condemned   to   the  society   of 
the  infamous  at  Portland. 

Thomas  Scampton,  a  young  manufacturer, 
whose  family  have  for  generations  pursued  their 
avocations  with  honour  in  the  town  of  Leicester, 
was  charged  with  making  a  bonfire  of  his  own 
factory  to  secure  in  ready  money  the  sum  for 
which  it  was  insured. 

The  chief  witness  against  him  was  his  own 
partner,  with  whom  he  had  been  at  variance. 
There  was  hard  swearing,  and  there  were  in- 
terested motives  on  the  side  of  the  prosecution. 
The  jury  convicted,  but  afterwards  petitioned 
for  the  prisoner's  release.  At  last,  finding  that 
Mr.  Cross  and  Baron  Bramwell  were  deaf  to 
all  appeals,  the  family,  conscious  of  their  loved 
one's  innocence,  indicted  the  man  who  was 
principal  witness  against  him  for  perjury.  At 
this  trial,  although  the  prosecution  failed  to 
convict,  so  much  evidence  transpired  to  prove 
Scampton' s  innocence,  that,  upon  the  repre- 
sentation of  Lord  Justice  Thesiger,  he  was 
immediately  released.  I  worked  side  by  side 
with  this  man  on  the  "trawleys"  at  Portland. 
I  was  a  witness  of  the  anguish  which  he 
sufiered,  more  on  his  young  wife's  account  than 

38  Convict  Life. 

his  own.  It  was  bis  custom  to  work  by  my 
side  when  lie  could,  and  we  together  tried  to 
escape  the  contagion  of  the  moral  pestilence 
by  which  we  were  surrounded.  Scampton  called 
upon  me  a  day  or  two  ago.  He  says  that  he 
can  hardly  yet  realize  his  deliverance  from  the 
association  of  "  the  awful  denizens  "  of  Portland, 
and  that  often  in  the  society  of  his  devoted  and 
pure  young  wife,  the  hideous  oaths  of  the  gaol- 
birds still  ring  in  his  ears  and  cause  him  to 
shudder  at  the  remembrance  of  the  pollution 
which  was  forced  upon  him. 

Another  class  for  whom  I  would  ask  some 
consideration,  are  men  who  were  born  before  the 
School  Board  was  so  active  as  it  is  now — very 
ignorant,  knowing  veritably  no  difference  between 
B  and  a  bull's  foot,  and  wlio  are  also  very,  very 
poor.  Men  naturally  honest,  and  desiring  to  re- 
main so,  who,  during  as  severe  a  winter  as  that  of 
1878-79,  find  themselves  utterly  unable,  no  matter 
how  much  they  may  try,  to  obtain  employment, 
have,  in  the  extremity  of  their  need,  carried  off 
from  some  neighbouring  farmer's  barn  a  bushel  of 
potatoes,  or  from  some  adjacent  baker's  shop  a 
gallon  of  bread,  with  which  to  satisfy  the  cravings 
of  a   dozen   helpless  and  innocent  children.    It 

Crime  and  Criminals.  39 

may  be  doubted  by  some  whether  such  cases 
are  ever  punished  by  penal  servitude ;  but  the 
sentence  is  very  commonly  inflicted  under  these 
precise  circumstances,  and  especially  when  the 
culprit  happens  to  be  tried  by  "  the  great 
unpaid "  at  Quarter  Sessions.  The  man,  per- 
haps acting  under  the  delusion  that  God  made 
rabbits  for  poor  men  when  he  made  hares  for 
the  rich,  has  had  a  previous  conviction  for 
some  poaching  alSray.  Now  I  am  not  defend- 
ing poaching,  and  I  agree  that  whatever  the 
law  may  be,  the  duty  of  a  good  citizen  is  to 
obey  it;  but  as  the  law  of  bygone  times 
allowed  the  last  generation  to  grow  up  in  stolid 
ignorance,  I  think  some  little  allowance  should 
be  made  for  this  class,  and  that  a  former 
conviction  for  poaching  should  not  be  deemed 
a  sufficient  reason  for  sending  a  man  to  penal 
servitude  for  a  solitary  instance  of  dishonesty, 
committed  to  save  his  family  from  starvation. 
Thefts  of  all  sorts  must  be  punished,  but  again 
I  say,  the  men  who  commit  such  petty  thefts 
are  not  monsters,  or  murderers,  or  professional 
thieves,  and  should  not  be  herded  with  them. 

I  will  take  this  opportunity  to  make  public  an 
order  which  has  been  given  by  his  Royal  High- 

40  Convict  Life. 

ness  the  Prince  of  Wales  to  the  servants  and 
keepers  on  his  estate  in  Norfolk.  The  Prince  of 
Wales  gets  a  good  deal  of  abuse,  undeserved 
abuse,  from  all  sorts  of  people ;  but  what  I  have 
to  tell  about  him  speaks  volumes  for  his  goodness 
of  heart,  and  if  his  example  were  followed  by  all 
the  landowners  in  the  country,  a  large  number 
of  crimes  would  be  prevented.  A  prisoner  now 
undergoing  sentence  for  a  poaching  affray  upon 
another  estate  in  Norfolk,  told  me  that  he  for- 
merly lived  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Sandring- 
ham.  I  will  use  his  own  words.  He  said,  "  I 
was  never  in  trouble  while  I  lived  there,  nor 
nohody  else.''  I  asked  him,  why  ?  He  said, 
because  if  a  man  needed  a  dinner,  and  wanted  a 
rabbit,  he  had  only  to  go  to  the  house  and  ask 
for  one.  The  Prince  had  given  special  orders 
that  the  men  about  were  not  to  trespass  and 
shoot  for  themselves,  but  that  his  keepers  were 
always  to  supply  a  rabbit  to  any  labourer  on  the 
estate,  and  that  if  none  were  in  hand  they 
were  immediately  to  go  out  and  shoot  some. 

There  is  still  another  class  of  criminals  who, 
I  think,  should  not  be  herded  with  professional 
thieves,  and  whom  a  good  reformatory  system 
might  transform  into  sober  and  honest  citizens. 

Crime  and  Criminals.  41 

I  regret  to  say  they  include  a  very  large  class, — 
many  men,  many  women,  and,  worse  still,  lots 
of  boys  and  girls  between  the  ages  of  four- 
teen and  twenty,  who  commit  crimes  under  the 
immediate  influence  of  intoxicating  drinks.  Of 
course,  I  know  what  abject  fools  men  and  women 
are  to  get  drunk,  and  that  intoxication  is  a  lame 
excuse  for  crime;  but  then  the  law  allows  so  many 
inducements  to  be  held  out  to  people  to  get 
drunk  that  I  really  think  it  should  be  considered 
responsible  in  some  degree  for  the  result.  There 
are  many  hundreds  of  prisoners  now  in  convict 
prisons  whose  crimes  were  committed  while  they 
were  in  a  state  of  drunkenness, — often  in  the 
public-house  itself,  always  soon  after  emerging 
from  it.  Drink  is  such  a  common  evil  amongst 
the  working-classes  of  Britain  that  it  is  rightly 
called  the  National  Sin ;  and  I  think  that  the 
Government  has  so  much  encouraged  the  vice 
that  it  should  not  deal  too  hardly  with  its  victims 
when  they  are  honest  men,  but  should  anxiously 
educate  them,  when  they  become  prisoners,  into 
more  excellent  habits.  There  are  numbers  of 
lads  now  in  our  convict  prisons  who  have 
committed  criminal  and  other  assaults  when  in  a 
state  of  drunkenness  who  have  never  been  guilty 

42  Convict  Life. 

of  dishonesty,  but  who  are  yet  herded  with  pro- 
fessional thieves,  and  are  not  receiving  any  in- 
struction or  advice  which  may  guard  them  from 
evil  in  the  future. 

The  case  of  two  youths,  mere  boys,  just  recurs 
to  my  memory.  They  are  now  at  Portland  under 
sentence  of  penal  servitude  for  life.  Their  names 
are  Drinkwater  and  Stonestreet,  and  they  were 
sentenced  to  be  hanged,  but  had  their  sentence 
commuted.  They  got  drunk  on  a  Saturday  night, 
after  a  week  of  honest  industry.  At  the  public- 
house,  and  when  in  a  maudlin  state,  they  encoun- 
tered a  woman  old  enough  to  have  been  their 
mother;  they  treated  her,  and  she  got  drunk. 
At  midnight  the  landlord,  who  had  supplied  all 
the  liquor,  turned  them  into  the  street;  the 
woman's  head  struck  the  curb,  but  she  got  up 
and  went  away  with  the  lads.  At  daybreak  on 
the  Sunday  morning  the  lads  were  found  in  a 
drunken  sleep ;  the  woman,  who  lay  between 
them,  and  who  had  evidently  been  pulled  about, 
was  dead.  I  have  inquired  about  these  boys  since 
my  release.  The  affair  took  place  at  Southall, 
in  Middlesex.  The  boys  were  honest  and  indus- 
trious, and  my  experience  of  them  at  Portland 
leads  me  to  say  that  they  were  unusually  artless 

Crime  and  Criminals.  43 

and  free  from  vice.  When  they  first  came  to 
Portland  they  never  used  foul  language,  or  took 
part  in  disgusting  conversations,  but  I  cannot 
hope  that  they  will  have  any  good  qualities  long  if 
they  remain  in  their  present  position  amongst  the 
professional  thieves ;  and  twenty  years  of  such 
association  will  transform  them  into  monsters. 

I  suppose  that  liquor,  and  the  publican,  and 
these  boys  caused  the  death  of  that  woman ;  but 
I  am  quite  satisfied  that  the  boys  know  no  more 
how  she  came  to  her  death  than  I  do.  This  is 
only  one  case  of  hundreds,  nay,  of  thousands.  I 
suppose  that  all  the  professional  criminals  of 
England  were  made  so  originally,  either  in  their 
own  persons  or  that  of  their  progenitors,  by 
drink,  for  if  apparently  by  indolence  or  poverty,  in 
nine  cases  out  of  ten  the  indolence  and  poverty 
were  created  by  drink.  I  am  quite  certain  that 
amongst  ?i07i-professional  criminals  nine-tenths  of 
their  off'ences  are  directly  traceable  to  drink  and 
public-houses.  It  would  be  well  /or  the  working- 
classes  of  England  if  Dante's  inscription  were 
suspended  over  every  gin-palace  in  the  land  : — 

Through  me  ye  entei'  the  abodes  of  woe  ; 
Through  me  to  endless  ruin  ye  are  brought ; 
Through  me  amongst  the  souls  accurst  ye  go  : 
All  hope  abandon,  ye  who  enter  here. 

44  Convict  Life. 

What  is  more  to  my  purpose,  though,  is  to 
state  my  conviction  that  there  is  a  large  class 
of  criminals  who,  though  honest  men,  have 
broken  the  law  while  under  the  influence  of 
drink ;  that  although  these  men  are  justly 
punished,  the  law  has  another  duty  besides 
that  of  punishing  them,  and  that  is  to  educate 
and  reform  them.  The  duty  of  the  law  is 
not  only  to  punish  crime,  but  to  use  all  the 
means  in  its  power  to  prevent  it  for  the  future. 
It  will  be  my  aim  in  the  following  chapters  to 
show,  that  there  is  a  criminal  responsibility  at- 
taching to  the  law  for  the  manner  in  which  it 
performs  this  duty  ;  that  under  existing  arrange- 
ments the  law  lays  its  hand  the  most  heavily 
upon  those  who  are  the  least  guilty,  because 
what  to  them  is  severe  punishment  is  to  the 
habitual  gaol-bird  no  punishment  at  all;  that 
the  law  owes  it  to  the  taxpayers,  to  society 
generally,  and  to  a  still  higher  power,  to  use  all 
possible  means  to  educate  the  ignorant,  to  raise 
the  fallen,  and  to  bring  back  the  erring  to  a 
sense  of  their  duty,  but  that  at  present  its 
efforts  in  this  direction  are  futile,  and  almost 

Convict  Life.  45 



IT  will  be  seen  that  in  addition  to  a  small  num- 
ber of  educated  professional  criminals,  and  a 
large  number  of  ignorant  ones,  tlie  law  has  to  deal 
with  a  variety  of  offenders  who  may  be  termed 
novices  in  crime.  There  are  the  educated,  who 
have  committed  one  wrong  act ;  there  is  the  large 
class  who  have  committed  all  sorts  of  offences 
under  the  influence  of  liquor;  there  are  the  few 
unfortunates  whom  poverty  has  forced  into  crime ; 
and  there  are  numbers  of  mere  children  who 
ought  never  to  have  been  sent  into  a  convict 
prison  at  all.  It  may  fairly  be  presumed  that  these 
classes  are  not  intrinsically  bad ;  that  they  are 
open  to  good  influences  ;  that  a  good  reformatory 
system,  judiciously  worked,  might  transform 
them  into  industrious  and  sober  and  honest 

Now,  what  does  the  present  convict  system  do 

46  Convict  Life. 

with  these  first  offenders  who  do  not  yet  belong 
to  the  class  of  habitual  criminals  ?  It  sends 
them  on  to  "  public  works,"  and  thrusts  them 
into  close  communion  with  the  abandoned  villains 
and  professional  thieves  whose  characteristics  I 
described  in  the  last  chapter.  It  binds  them  as 
^  apprentices  for  five  or  seven  years  to  learn  the 
trade  of  law-breaking.  They  are,  during  the 
whole  term  of  their  imprisonment,  under  the 
influence,  tuition,  and  example,  of  miscreants 
who,  from  the  cradle  to  the  grave,  exist  upon 
outrage  and  plunder;  they  are  by  these  men 
initiated  into  all  sorts  of  tricks  and  dodges  by 
which  they  can  evade  the  prison  discipline,  and 
elude  the  burden  of  work,  during  their  imprison- 
ment, and  at  the  end  of  it  enrol  themselves  in 
the  great  and  yearly-increasing  army  of  profes- 
sional thieves. 

They  enter  prison  mere  novices  in  crime  : 
by  the  fostering  care  of  a  paternal  Government 
in  these  "  high  schools  "  of  rascality,  they  may 
upon  their  discharge  be  safely  pronounced  adepts 
in  all  the  arts  of  thieving,  and  thoroughly 
qualified  for  a  roguish  career.  An  outsider  will 
naturally  ask  how  it  is  that  opportunities  are 
allowed  for   such   free    communication    between 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  47 

prisoners,  and  I  must  reply  by  describing  the 
system  under  which  labour  upon  "  public 
works  "  is  carried  on. 

The  men  are  organized  into  gangs  or  parties 
of  about  twenty-five  each,  under  the  supervision 
of  a  warder  (or  "screw"  as  he  is  called  by 
prisoners).  Every  morning,  weather  permitting, 
the  gangs  are  marched  in  double  file  to  the 
scene  of  their  labours,  where  they  "  break  off" 
and  commence  the  day's  work.  If  it  be  stone- 
dressing,  two  men  always  work  at  one  stone ; 
if  it  is  a  "  barrow-run,"  the  "  filler "  and  the 
wheeler  are  in  close  proximity ;  if  it  be  trench- 
ing or  brick -making,  the  men  are  almost  of 
necessity  close  together,  and  they  talk  quietly, 
but  incessantly,  until  the  moment  that  the 
whistle  blows  to  "fall-in"  again. 

So  long  as  the  men  appear  to  be  at  work, 
no  matter  how  little  is  done,  and  so  long  as 
they  keep  their  eyes  wide  open  in  order  to  give 
"the  office"  to  the  warder  as  to  the  approach 
of  a  superior  officer,  they  may  talk  as  much  as 
they  please. 

There  is  a  tacit  understanding  between  all 
"  second-timers  "  and  old  thieves,  and  the  officers 
who  have   charge   of   them.      If   the    officer   is 

48  Convict  Life. 

caught  in  any  dereliction  of  duty  he  is  liable  to  a 
fine ;  these  old  thieves  act  as  his  spies,  and  take 
care  that  he  is  not  caught.  In  return  he  allows 
the  thieves  to  fetch  what  they  call  an  easy 
lagging,  to  do  as  little  work  as  they  please, 
and  to  talk  as  much  as  they  please  —  and 
such  talk  ! 

The  language  used  by  these  old  criminals  is 
so  abominable  that  I  was  going  to  say  the  Zulus 
or  the  Afohans  would  recoil  from  it  with  shame 
and  horror;  and  the  more  revolting  it  is  to 
decency  the  more  it  is  enjoyed  by  many  of  the 
men  who  have  been  selected  by  the  authorities 
to  superintend  the  labour,  and  assist  in  the  re- 
formation of  convicts.  In  case  of  the  approach 
of  the  governor  or  chief  warder,  and  the  possi- 
bility of  their  having  heard  what  is  going  on, 
the  officer  in  charge  will  make  a  report  against 
a  couple  of  men  for  talking  or  laughing  at 
work.  The  men  selected  to  be  reported  are 
invariably  green  hands,  and  the  most  innocent  in 
the  gang. 

The  reason  for  this  is  obvious :  the  old 
gaol-birds  are  content  to  act  as  spies  for  the 
warder,  but,  exercising  the  cunning  which  is  one 
of  the   essentials    of    their   vocation,   they   take 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  49 

pains  to  post  themselves  up  in  all  his  little 
weaknesses  and  derelictions  of  duty,  and  would 
not  hesitate  to  betray  him  at  some  opportune 
moment,  should  he  dare  to  report  them.  The 
warders  who  really  do  their  duty,  without  fear 
or  favour,  have  to  be  constantly  on  their  guard, 
lest  their  heads  should  come  in  contact  with 
bricks,  or  their  bodies  be  found  at  the  foot  of 
a  cliff. 

Many  an  officer  in  charge  of  a  party  has  what 
are  called  his  "marks,"  men  who  are  made  his 
scapegoats  when  he  requires  a  sacrifice  to  pro- 
pitiate his  superiors  and  to  sustain  his  own  reputa- 
tion for  efficiency  and  discipline.  These  "  marks  " 
are  in  all  cases  the  men  who  least  deserve  prison 
punishment.  I  have  known  an  officer  to  get  up 
a  fictitious  character  for  vigilance,  and  even  to 
earn  his  promotion,  by  continually  reporting  two 
or  three  men  of  his  party.  The  constitutions 
of  these  men  were  irretrievably  ruined  by  the 
constant  infliction  of  bread -and -water  punish- 
ment, and  yet  I  could  swear  that  they  were 
the  least  vicious  and  the  most  industrious  in 
the  gang. 

But  as  I  have  heard  these  warders  say,  "We 
must  look  after  them  that  look  after  us."     The 

50  Convict  Life. 

old  thieves  and  they  are  old  friends  ;  they 
thoroughly  understand  each  other,  and  work  into 
each  other's  hands.  The  old  thief  fetches  an 
"easy  lagging,"  and  recruits  his  health  in- an- 
ticipation of  a  new  lease  of  criminal  life ;  and 
the  warder  maintains  his  reputation  for  vigi- 
lance. The  men  who  suffer,  and  who  go  to  the 
wall,  are  the  unsophisticated  and  the  novices. 

"What  wonder  that  with  such  associations,  and 
under  the  influence  of  such  a  system,  they 
lose  all  morality  and  manhood,  and  in  sheer 
despair  join  the  "regular  army"  of  crime?  In 
these  conversations — and  recollect,  I  am  speaking 
from  personal  experience — the  usual  topic  is  the 
art  of  thieving ;  the  causes  of  failure  in  daring 
burglaries ;  the  mistakes  by  which,  after  a  suc- 
cessful crime,  the  thieves  failed  to  escape  detec- 
tion ;  the  latest  and  newest  invention  for  picking 
locks  or  opening  safes ;  the  most  recent  dodges 
for  successful  robberies  at  railway  stations ;  the 
most  eligible  districts  for  shoplifting,  and  the 
most  profitable  occasions  for  pocket  -  picking. 
Notes  are  memorised  by  which  former  mistakes 
may  be  avoided,  and  the  science  of  law-breaking 
made  perfect.  The  novices  are  also  instructed 
in  the  secrets  and  mysteries  of    the  craft,  the 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  51 

varied  machinery  existing  in  thieves'  quarters  for 
procuring  alibis,  false  evidence,  and  other  dodges 
for  the  evasion  of  the  law. 

They  are  regaled  with  exaggerated  histories  of 
successful  schemes  of  plunder,  and  of  the  "  glo- 
rious sprees "  which  have  been  enjoyed  upon 
their  fruits,  and  hundreds  of  the  ignorant  and 
the  weak  are  by  such  tales  induced  to  take 
their  chance  in  the  business  as  soon  as  they 
are  liberated.  I  recollect  one  vagabond  de- 
tailing his  experiences  at  railway  stations. 

Eor  twenty-five  years  he  had  successfully 
carried  on  a  system  of  baggage- stealing ;  some- 
times in  clerical  garb,  sometimes  as  a  swell- 
mobsman,  and  now  and  then  disguised  as  an 
opulent  agriculturist,  he  would  manage  to  pos- 
sess himself  of  valuable  portmanteaus.  Rugby, 
Derby,  and  Crewe  were  his  favourite  stations, 
but  he  had  made  several  successful  hauls  from 
Charing-cross,  by  covering  Dover  labels  with 
Croydon  ones.  Arrived  at  the  latter  station, 
the  baggage  was  of  course  put  out  of  the  train, 
claimed  by  him,  and  disposed  of  in  London 
before  the  real  owners  had  arrived  in  Dover  to 
miss  it. 

What  surprised  me  most  about  this  scoundrel 
E   2 


62  Convict  Life. 

was  that  his  tongue  did  not  betray  him  to 
the  railway  officials,  for  there  could  have  been 
nothing  about  him  except  his  clothes  likely  to 
deceive;  a  more  veritable  cad  I  never  met. 
I  forget  how  many  hundreds  of  portmanteaus 
this  man  had  possessed  himself  of,  but  foi' 
more  than  twenty  years  he  lived  luxuriously; 
the  only  intermissions  being  two  short  terms  of 
imprisonment,  and  his  present  sentence  of  seven 
years'  penal  servitude. 

He  is  now  at  Dartmoor,  fetching  what  he  calls 
a  very  "easy  lagging."  He  is  considered  by  many 
of  the  warders  a  very  "  wide  man  " — a  "  man  of 
the  world."  He  looks  after  their  interests,  and 
they  look  after  his.  He  is  in  the  leather- cutting 
shop,  and  his  labour  is  mere  amusement.  He  is 
such  a  "  wide  man  "  that  he  never  gets  a  report, 
and  will  consequently  obtain  the  whole  of  his 
remission — nineteen  months — and  be  discharged 
early  next  year  upon  a  ticket-of -leave.  He  has 
a  pupil  in  the  same  shop  whom  he  is  instructing 
in  the  mysteries  of  his  art,  and  who  is  to  become 
his  assistant  and  accomplice  in  the  future.  The 
instructions  go  on  in  the  presence  of  the  officer 
in  charge,  who  seems  to  enjoy  the  fun.  The 
approach  of  the  governor  or  chief  warder  ma}^  be 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  53 

seen  from  the  windows  of  the  shop  ;  one  prisoner 
is  therefore  always  on  the  qui  vive  to  give  the 
alarm.  The  foul  and  disgusting  conversation  is 
incessant,  but  if  "  the  authorities "  enter  all 
seems  as  quiet  as  the  grave,  and  the  warder  looks 
as  stern  as  a  judge. 

There  is  an  old  burglar  and  highway  robber 
in  the  same  shop  who  is  now  doing  his  third 
or  fourth  "  lagging."  From  his  experiences  I 
might,  had  I  been  so  inclined,  have  learned 
how  to  become  a  successful  marauder.  He 
has  never  done  a  day's  work  in  his  life,  and 
never  intends  to ;  his  great  and  constant  regret 
is  that  he  did  not  kill  the  poor  old  man  upon 
whom,  in  the  dead  of  night,  and  in  a  lonely 
house,  he  committed  his  last  robbery  ;  had  he 
thoroughly  "  settled  him,"  he  says,  there  would 
have  been  no  evidence  to  convict  him.  This  old 
rascal,  sixty  years  old,  but  hale  and  hearty,  will 
get  his  discharge  next  Christmas,  and  has  got  all 
his  arrangements  made  for  a  burglary  at  the 
house  of  a  gentleman  near  Cambridge,  acting 
upon  information  received  from  a  prisoner 
recently  arrived  at  Dartmoor,  who  was  convicted 
on  some  other  charge  before  he  could  effect  the 
robbery    himself.      I     cannot     tell    how    many 

54  Convict  Life.  ' 

crimes  are  arranged  in  prison,  and  afterwards 
successfully  carried  out,  but  their  name  is 

One  scamp  in  the  shoemaker's  shop  at  Dart- 
moor, hearing  that  I  was  shortly  to  be  discharged, 
and  supposing  me  to  be  one  of  the  "guild," 
requested  me  to  carry  a  "crooked  message"  to 
his  brother,  whose  address  he  gave  me,  and  who, 
he  said,  was  a  "respectable  working  man.'*  This 
brother,  it  seems,  works  at  different  houses  as  a 
mechanic,  keeping  himself  straight,  but  informing 
his  dishonest  pals  where  there  is  a  "  good  lay," 
and  even  taking  impressions  of  keys  which  come 
into  his  possession  in  the  course  of  his  work,  and 
by  which  ingress  may  be  obtained  at  night  to 
eligible  premises. 

The  tenor  of  the  message  I  was  requested 
to  convey  was  where  some  keys  could  be 
found  which  the  prisoner  had  made  to  effect  an 
entrance  to  a  house  in  Great  Portland-street, 
and  a  desire  that  the  keys  and  necessary 
information  might  be  handed  over  to  another 
"  pal." 

More  dangerous  still  are  the  conspiracies 
got  up  in  prison  between  educated  professional 
thieves.     When  at  Portland   I  happened  to  be 

Convict  Lahour  and  Association.  55 

working  near  a  celebrated  convict,  of  diamond 
and  chloroform  renown.  He.  according  to  his 
own  account,  had  lived  luxuriously  for  years 
upon  the  proceeds  of  numberless  ingenious 
schemes  of  dibhonesty.  His  pal  had  been  the 
successful  floater  of  bubble  companies,  had  once 
organized  and  paid  for  a  grand  testimonial  and 
banquet  to  himself  in  the  city  of  Dublin,  the 
advertised  reports  of  which  in  the  Times  and 
Telegraph  induced  lots  of  fools  to  invest  in  the 
bogus  concern. 

These  two  worthies  were  busily  occupied 
during  the  year  I  was  near  them  in  bringing 
to  perfection  a  scheme  which  threatened  ruin  to 
foreign  bankers,  principally  upon  the  American 
continent.  Both  the  rogues  are  now  at  liberty 
— one,  as  I  am  informed,  being  in  New  York, 
the  other  in  London ;  and  they  are  doubtless 
putting  into  operation  the  nice  little  game 
which  they  were  allowed  opportunities  to  concoct 
upon  "  public  works." 

I  shall  have  to  refer  to  these  men  again, 
but  I  give  these  details  here,  to  show  how 
faulty  the  present  convict  system  is  in  regard 
to  the  association  of  prisoners,  and  still  more 
for   the   purpose  of    urging   the    importance   of 

56  Convict  Life. 

a  "  classification  of  prisoners,"  so  that  first 
offenders  and  novices  in  crime  may  not  be 
placed  under  the  tuition  of  old  thieves,  and 
so  be  educated  under  the  aegis  of  the  law  for  a 
dishonest  career. 

I  have  just  spoken  of  a  man  in  the  shoemaker's 
shop  at  Dartmoor.  Shoemaking,  of  course,  is 
indoor  labour.  In  all  the  convict  prisons  the 
tailoring  and  shoemaking  are  pursued  in  large 
association  rooms.  Only  a  few  weeks  ago  a  mur- 
derous outrage  was  committed  upon  an  officer  in 
the  shoemaker's  shop  at  Dartmoor,  an  outrage 
which  would  have  been  impossible  except  where 
prisoners  are  associated. 

The  victim  in  this  case,  Luscombe,  an  assistant 
warder,  is,  if  he  be  still  alive,  a  shoemaker  by 
trade,  a  native  of  Ashburton,  Devonshire,  and 
one  of  the  few  intelligent  and  respectable  officers 
employed  at  Dartmoor.  I  saw  him  constantly 
while  I  was  at  that  prison,  and  believe  that,  with- 
out fear  or  favour,  and  I  am  sure  without  any 
harshness,  he  tried  to  do  his  duty. 

But  he  was  one  of  that  class  of  officers  who 
were  not  "  hail-fellow-well-met "  with  the  old 
thieves;  he  had  no  sympathy  with  the  "profes- 
sional," and  I  always  felt  sure  that  he  would  at 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.           57 

some  time  be  made  a  victim  for  his  want  of 
policy.  If  a  novice  in  crime  was  put  into  the 
shop,  a  man  who  really  desired  to  learn  the 
trade  with  the  view  of  turning  it  to  good 
account  afterwards,  that  man  always  found  a 
friend   in  Luscombe. 

But,  of  course,  such  men  were  industrious, 
for,  as  Luscombe  often  told  them,  "  their  object 
should  be  to  see  in  how  short  a  time  they  could 
make  a  good  shoe."  The  few  men  in  the  shop 
who  did  this  were  called  "  Luscombe' s  lambs," 
"  Government  men,"  and  '*  policemen,"  and 
were  treated  with  contempt  and  derision  by 
the  old  thieves.  "Why  this  is  so,  is  evident.  The 
policy  of  the  professional  thief  is  to  do  as  little 
work  as  possible,  to  live  at  the  expense  of  the 
country,  and  to  give  nothing  in  return  ;  they 
never  average  more  than  three  shoes  a  week —  V 
about  a  day's  work  for  an  industrious  shoe- 
maker— so  that  the  man  who  made  three  pairs 
a  week,  was  their  enemy,  and  the  occasion  of 
calling  the  attention  of  an  honest  ofl&cer  to  their 
laziness.  I  have  very  little  doubt  that  when 
the  truth  comes  out,  it  will  be  seen  that  Luscombe 
had  reported  one  of  these  old  thieves  for  laziness, 
and  that  for  so  doing  he  was  made  the  victim  of 

58  Convict  Life. 

a  conspiracy.  A  large  number  of  oflBcers  make 
themselves  safe  by  letting  all  "professional" 
members  of  the  "guild"  do  as  they  like;  and 
this  they  will  do  so  long  as  the  prisoners  are 
associated  in  large  numbers,  and  have  oppor- 
tunities for  conspiracy.  It  requires  a  man  of 
great  moral  courage  to  do  his  duty  under  present 
regulations.  Luscombe  was  one  of  these,  but 
they  are  few  and  far  between. 

A  description  of  this  shoemaker's  shop  at  Dart- 
moor, will  convey  a  tolerable  idea  of  the  evils 
of  the  association  of  prisoners  in  all  "public 
work "  prisons ;  and  the  amount  of  labour  per- 
formed in  them  will  rather  startle  the  innocents 
who  suppose  that  one  of  the  objects  of  the  Convict 
Department  is  to  transform  criminals  into  indus- 
trious citizens. 

In  the  early  part  of  1879  I  myself  saw 
sitting  in  this  shop  nearly  two  hundred  men; 
more  than  one-half  of  them  were  re-convicted 
men;  many  had  done  two  "laggings,"  some 
three,  and  a  few  four.  Of  the  remaining  half, 
about  one-third  had  been  in  and  out  of  prison  all 
their  lives  for  petty  offences,  but  had  managed 
to  escape  penal  servitude.  Sixty  or  seventy 
remain   to   be   accounted  for;    these  were  first- 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  59 

offenders,  many  of  them  mere  boys,  convicted  for 
drunken  assaults,  or  for  some  poaching  affray; 
youths  and  young  men  who,  had  they  been  sen- 
tenced to  a  short  term  of  severe  imprisonment, 
with  coarse  food  and  plenty  of  work,  supplemented 
by  the  means  of  education,  would  very  likely  have 
turned  out  useful  and  honest  citizens.  Here  they 
are,  however,  under  the  tutelage  of  old  thieves, 
nominally  to  learn  how  to  make  a  shoe,  really 
and  truly  to  be  instructed  in  the  most  ingenious 
ways  of  filching  a  watch  or  a  purse.  The  men 
are  so  crowded  in  this  shop  that  they  have  to  use 
very  short  threads  for  stitching  their  shoes,  or 
their  hands  would  come  in  contact  with  the  next 
man's  head;  every  facility,  therefore,  is  afforded 
for  chat. 

It  will  no  doubt  appear  strange  to  an  outsider 
that  so  large  a  proportion  of  the  criminal  class 
should  be  shoemakers  ;  the  fact  is  that  they 
are  not  ;  they  have,  however,  in  county  prisons 
picked  up  a  sHght  knowledge  of  cobbling,  and 
of  tailoring  too,  so  that,  when  lagged,  and  asked 
their  trade,  they  register  themselves  as  shoe- 
makers or  tailors,  knowing  that  in  these  trades 
they  can  "fetch"  an  "easy  lagging,"  and  have 
plenty  of  association  with  their  pals.     Not  one  in 

60  Convict  Life. 

forty  in  this  Dartmoor  shop  could  make  a  shoe 
which  would  pass  muster  with  the  shoddiest 
manufacturer  in  Northampton;  here,  however, 
they  are  not  only  shoemakers  but  instructors 

There  are  fifty  old  thieves  sitting  in  different 
parts  of  the  shop,  each  of  whom  has  one  or  two 
youths — novices  in  crime  as  well  as  in  shoe- 
making — under  his  instruction.  What  the  appren- 
tice learns  during  seven  years  of  penal  servitude 
may  be  easily  guessed.  I  knew  several  who  had 
been  for  three  or  four  years  under  instruction 
who  could  just  turn  out — well,  not  a  shoe,  but 
what  Carlyle  would  call  an  "  amorphous  botch," 
and  they  seemed  to  have  no  desire  to  improve  so 
as  to  gain  an  honest  livelihood  in  this  branch  of 
industry  when  discharged  from  prison,  the  reason 
being  very  obvious ;  they  had  learned  from  their 
teachers,  not  a  "  more  excellent,"  but  a  much 
more  easy  method  of  obtaining  money.  I  shall 
show  presently  that  the  law  does  nothing  for 
the  regeneration  of  criminals,  but  I  think  I  have 
shown  that  it  is  very  busily  occupied  in  creating 
them.  Sitting  in  such  close  proximity  conversa- 
tion is,  of  course,  unlimited  ;  and  as  all  the  pro- 
fessional thieves  with  whom  I  came  in  contact 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  61 

are  dead  to  all  sense  of  shame,  the  peculiar 
grossness  of  their  immorality  and  obscenity 
comes  out  in  their  talk,  and  does  its  evil  work 
in  forming  the  character  and  habits  of  the  new 
beginners  in  crime. 

The  bulk  of  the  work  performed  in  the  shop 
consists  of  boots  for  the  Metropolitan  police 
force;  the  boots  are  supplied  to  the  police  at 
9s.  3d.  per  pair,  and  as  the  material  at  contract 
price  costs  at  least  8s.  3d.,  the  prisoner  who 
makes  three  boots  in  a  week  earns  exactly  Is.  6d., 
or  about  the  cost  of  the  bread  he  eats,  with  no 
margin  for  the  meat.  This  will  be  hard  to  be- 
lieve, but  as  I  was  myself  in  the  cutting- shop, 
where  every  piece  of  leather  was  shaped  for  the 
makers,  I  can  speak  very  positively.  In  the 
middle  of  March  last  there  were  190  shoemakers 
at  work,  and  there  were  something  less  than  200 
pairs  of  shoes  manufactured  in  the  week,  so  that, 
making  every  allowance  for  the  hands  employed 
upon  the  prison  repairs,  the  work  done  did  not 
average  three  shoes  to  the  man  in  the  week.  If 
each  man  worked  in  his  own  cell  he  could,  after 
three  months'  practice,  make  a  pair  of  shoes 
every  day  with  great  ease,  and  would  have  no 
opportunity   to    corrupt   others,    or,  if  he   be  a 

62  Convict  Life. 

novice,  become  himself  corrupted.  There  would 
be  no  opportunity  then  for  outrages  such  as  that 
committed  upon  Luscombe.  Learners  should, 
of  course,  be  instructed  by  competent  officers 
and  not  by  prisoners.  There  are  four  warders 
employed  nominally  at  Dartmoor  for  this  pur- 
pose— Roberts,  Warren,  Luscombe  (the  victim 
of  the  recent  outrage),  and  a  disagreeable 
fellow  who  rejoiced  in  the  name  of  Pinch.  The 
three  first-named  are  doubtless  competent  men, 
but  under  the  present  regulations  their  duties 
are  delegated  to  prisoners.  If  each  man  worked 
in  his  cell,  two  officers  passing  from  one  cell 
to  another  every  few  minutes  might  easily 
instruct  all  the  learners,  and  with  very  ad- 
vantageous results,  not  only  to  the  prisoners 
but  to  the  country. 

The  tailors'  shops  at  Dartmoor,  Portland, 
and  the  rest  of  the  convict  stations,  are  open 
to  the  same  objections  as  to  the  association  of 
prisoners.  There  are  nearly  a  hundred  tailors  (?) 
at  Dartmoor;  far  more  than  a  hundred  at 
Portland  ;  from  two  to  three  hundred  at 
Woking,  and  proportionate  numbers  in  the 
other  prisons.  The  only  tailoring  done  is  the 
clothing  of  the  prison  warders.     The  clothing  of 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  63 

the  prisoners  is  mere  plain  sewing,  and,  together 
with  the  repairs,  might  be  easily  performed  bj 
prisoners  over  sixty  years  of  age,  who  are  unfit 
for  hard  labour.  The  uniforms  of  the  officers 
could  be  made  by  one-tenth  part  of  the  number 
now  employed  upon  tailoring  if  the  men  worked 
in  their  cells,  without  the  opportunity  for  "  chat ;" 
and  I  think  that  this  work  might  well  be  confined 
to  youths  who  are  first  offenders,  and  who  really 
desire  to  learn  a  trade  with  a  view  to  future 

The  present  composition  of  the  tailors'  shops 
is  this :  Two-thirds  able-bodied  professional 
thieves,  who  have  registered  themselves  as 
tailors  to  avoid  hard  labour,  and  the  other 
third  made  up  of  old  men,  learners,  and 
schemers,  whose  plausibility  has  imposed  upon 
the  doctors  to  excuse  them  from  manual  labour. 
Now,  I  very  respectfully  suggest  that  a  thousand 
able-bodied  but  lazy  men,  who,  when  at  large, 
religiously  avoid  all  industrial  pursuits,  might 
with  propriety  be  employed  in  some  other  way 
than  in  patching  shirts  and  hatching  schemes 
for  the  plunder  of  the  public  in  the  future. 
I  do  not  think  that  the  great  army  of  pro- 
fessional thieves  will  be  reduced,  so  long  as  its 

64  Convict  Life. 

soldiers  can,  when  in  prison,  enjoy  the  society 
of  their  chums,  eat  the  bread  of  idleness,  and 
sleep  for  ten  hours  out  of  the  twenty-four  in  a 
comfortable  hammock. 

The  men  who  do  whatever  hard  work  there 
is  done  on  public  works  are,  as  I  have  said, 
novices  and  green  hands,  who  have  not  been 
"wide"  enough  to  register  themselves  as  tailors 
or  shoemakers. 

The  outdoor  labour  upon  public  works  is  as 
unprofitable  as  the  indoor,  both  at  Portland  and 
Dartmoor.  I  have  no  doubt  that  the  same  re- 
mark applies  to  all  the  stations,  but  I  will  only 
speak  of  what  is  within  my  personal  knowledge. 
The  celebrated  moor  upon  which  Dartmoor 
prison  stands  consists  of  bog -land  stretching 
in  one  direction  some  twelve  or  fourteen  miles, 
and  in  the  front  of  the  prison  for  four  or  five 
miles.  The  Government  have  had  at  their 
command  the  labour  of  at  least  five  hundred 
men,  not  counting  those  employed  at  indoor 
labour,  for  the  last  forty  years — more  than 
sufficient  time,  with  only  ordinary  industry,  to 
have  brought  the  whole  of  Dartmoor  into  a 
state  of  cultivation,  and  to  have  added  greatly 
to  the  productive  land  of  the  country. 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  65 

The  moor  only  requires  draining  and  trench- 
ing to  make  it  "  blossom  like  the  rose," 
yet,  with  the  exception  of  a  few  hundred 
acres  in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  the  prison, 
it  remains  a  barren  and  dreary  morass.  That 
it  might  be  made  profitable  is  placed  beyond 
a  doubt,  because  in  a  few  acres  immediately 
adjoining  the  prison  asparagus,  peas,  rhubarb, 
and  all  the  other  luxuries  of  the  garden,  are 
brought  to  great  perfection  for  the  tables  of 
governor  and  chaplain.  Having  provided  for 
the  needs  of  the  oflBcials,  the  authorities  have 
done  nothing  more  to  the  small  portion  of  bog 
they  have  reclaimed  than  to  make  it  grow 
carrots  so  coarse  and  bad  as  to  be  scarcely  fit 
for  human  food.  There  is  also  plenty  of  good 
granite-stone  in  the  quarries  at  Dartmoor,  but 
it  is  made  no  use  of  beyond  what  is  needed  for 
the  repair  or  enlargement  of  the  prison. 

The  fact  is,  that  here,  and  I  believe  on  all 
public  works,  time  is  "frittered"  away.  Nothing 
is  done  completely  or  properly,  and  there  is  no 
actual  responsibility  resting  upon  any  officer  to 
get  work  done.  The  only  thing  in  which  the 
authorities  are  systematic  is  in  wasting  time. 
One  hour  is  wasted  regularly  every  day  at  Dart- 

66  Convict  Life. 

moor  in  absurd  military  marchings  and  counter- 
marchings,  and  useless  formalities,  before  the  men 
go  to  work.  Then,  from  want  of  proper  business 
management,  I  have  often  seen  three  or  four 
hundred  men  kept  waiting  for  fifteen  or  twenty 
minutes,  because  at  the  last  moment  it  was  dis- 
covered that  one  gang  was  short  of  an  officer, 
or  one  officer  was  short  of  a  musket,  or  that  a 
sufficient  number  of  picks  and  shovels,  or  barrows, 
had  not  been  provided.  When  at  last  a  start  is 
made,  and  the  convicts  reach  the  scene  of  their 
labours,  another  quarter  of  an  hour  is  wasted  in 
waiting  for  the  principal  officer  who  has  charge 
of  the  division.  It  is  his  duty  to  see  that  all  the 
gangs  have  arrived  at  their  respective  stations 
before  any  can  commence  work :  he  then  blows 
his  whistle  and  they  "fall  to."  To  what?  I 
will  give  an  example. 

I  recollect  the  circumstances  very  well,  be- 
cause it  was  just  before  Good  Friday,  and 
during  the  useless  labours  of  that  afternoon, 
my  thoughts  travelled  back  to  happy  Christ- 
mas and  Easter  seasons  of  past  years.  I 
heard  the  vile  oaths,  and  the  disgusting  and 
obscene  language  of  my  comrades,  and  I  con- 
trasted  the   scene   and    its    surroundings,    with 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  67 

my  once  tappy  home,  where  I  was  cheered  and 
smiled  upon  by  a  bright  angel  who  made  me,  I 
suppose,  too  happy.  I  could  not  help  fancying 
that  her  sister  angels  away  up  in  the  dark  blue, 
got  jealous  of  the  Elysium  which  she  made  for 
me  on  this  planet,  and  that  they  pleaded  with 
the  Great  Father  to  call  her  home  that  she  might 
enhance  their  joys,  and  sing  her  sweet  songs  to 
them  instead  of  to  me.  My  loved  one  seemed 
to  be  beckoning  to  me  through  the  clear 
ether  on  that  winter  afternoon,  and  my  greatest 
sorrow  at  that  moment,  was  not  that  all  my 
happiness  in  this  world  had  been  shipwrecked, 
not  even  that  I  had  disgraced  myself,  and 
condemned  myself  to  the  filthy  companion* 
ship  of  thieves  and  murderers :  no !  my  real 
sorrow  was  that  I  had  no  power  to  answer 
her  summons,  and  to  join  her  for  evermore  in 
that  sweet  spirit-land  "where  the  weary  are 
at  rest." 

I  was  recalled  from  my  reverie  by  an  order 
from  the  '•  screw  "  to  "  fall  in."  We  were  all 
marched,  some  twenty-four  of  us,  to  the  other 
end  of  a  large  field,  nearly  half  a  mile  off,  to 
fetch  a  sledge  with  which  to  remove  some  stones 
from  a  bog-hole.     Returning  with  the  sledge  we 

F  2 

68  Convict  Life. 

commenced  the  removal,  and  dragged  the  stones 
to  one  corner  of  the  field.  An  hour  thus  slipped 
away,  and  the  principal  officer  came  his  rounds. 
The  stones  had  not  been  placed  where  he  wished, 
and  we  were  ordered  to  transfer  them  to  the 
gate  at  the  entrance  to  the  field.  We  did  that, 
and  then  the  afternoon  was  gone. 

We  were  resuming  our  jackets  to  return  to 
the  prison,  when  the  farm  bailiff  came  along 
upon  his  pony.  He  thought  the  stones  would 
be  in  the  way  where  we  had  last  placed  them, 
and  directed  that  to-morrow  we  should  remove 
them  to  the  next  field. 

The  whole  twenty-five  men  had  not  earned 
one  ounce  of  the  brown  bread,  nor  one  pint  of 
the  cocoa,  they  were  returning  to  make  their 
supper  on.  They  had  certainly  not  contributed  a 
fraction  towards  the  wages  of  the  officers  who 
had  charge  of  them,  and  they  had  learned 
nothing,  except  lessons  in  vice  and  infamy  with 
which  they  had  regaled  each  other  in  their 
journeys  backwards  and  forwards  over  that  field. 
0  yes,  I  was  forgetting  one  thing ;  they  had 
received  one  further  confirmation  of  a  doctrine 
which  was  being  preached  to  them  over  and  over 
again,    day  after  day,  and  which  therefore  they 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  60 

could  never  forget,  but  would  carry  out  of  prison 
with  tliem  as  a  "  lesson  for  life,"  the  doctrine 
that  time  and  labour  are  of  no  value. 

I  do  not  suppose  that  the  heads  of  the  Convict 
Department  really  believe  that  this  is  a  healthy 
gospel  to  preach  to  lazy  thieves  whom  they 
desire  to  transform  into  honest  and  industrious 
men,  but  they  nevertheless  preach  it  incessantly 
in  every  public-works'  prison  in  the  land.  I 
recollect  another  afternoon  not  long  afterwards, 
in  the  same  gang,  when,  in  consequence  of  the 
gross  want  of  system  and  preparation  for  emer- 
gencies which  prevails  on  all  Government  works, 
a  poor  wretch  was,  so  far  as  the  officials  knew 
or  cared, 

"  Cut  oflF,  even  in  the  blossoms  of  his  sin  ; 
Unhousel'd,  disappointed,  iinanel'd ; 
No  reckoning  made,  but  sent  to  his  account 
With  all  his  imperfections  on  his  head." 

The  gang  were  employed  in  clearing  the  earth 
from  around  some  large  stones  that  they  might 
be  loosened  and  removed.  This  man  was  in  a 
trench  which  he  had  made  around  the  stone ;  his 
two  companions,  who  were  re-convicted  men  and 
up  to  everything,  perhaps  scented  danger ;  at  all 

70  Convict  Life. 

events  they  had  deserted  their  post,  and  this 
man,  a  novice  in  crime  as  well  as  at  the  work 
upon  which  he  was  employed,  was  alone.  The  stone 
suddenly  gave  way,  and  crushed  him  to  death 
against  the  rear  of  the  trench  which  he  had 
made.  The  officer  in  charge  had  paid  no  atten- 
tion to  what  was  going  on,  or,  accustomed  as  he 
was  to  the  work,  he  would  have  warned  the  man 
of  his  danger.  When  the  accident  took  place,  a 
quarter  of  an  hour  elapsed  before  ropes  and  jacks 
could  be  obtained  to  release  the  poor  fellow. 
During  this  time  his  dying  cries,  which  haunt  me 
now,  were,  "  Fetch  the  ropes! " — "  Get  the  jack! " 
— "For  God's  sake,  help  me!"  The  life  was 
crushed  out  of  him ;  the  spark  had  not  fled  when 
he  was  released,  there  was  indeed  a  little  flame, 
but  it  only  fluttered.  'No  doctor  was  sent  for 
the  moment  the  accident  occurred,  and  nobody 
thought  of  sending  to  the  prison,  which  was  a 
mile  and  a  half  off",  for  a  stretcher,  until  the  stone 
had  been  removed.  Three  quarters  of  an  hour 
more  elapsed  before  it  arrived;  and  during  all 
that  time,  which  seemed  to  me  an  age,  the  poor 
fellow's  dying  cries,  and  his  ravings  about  the 
dear  ones  at  home,  were  piteous  indeed.  He 
arrived  at  the  infirmary  alive,  but  only  in  time  to 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  71 

die ;  and  lie  died  a  victim  to  the  imbecility  and 
want  of  forethought  which  seem  to  characterize 
the  whole  department.  Personally  I  should  not 
have  felt  this  incident  so  much,  if  this  man 
had  been  one  of  the  old  professional  criminals, 
who  care  for  no  hving  soul  in  the  world  but 
themselves,  and  are  themselves  only  blotches 
upon  the  fair  face  of  nature  which  one  would  be 
glad  to  see  obliterated ;  but  this  poor  fellow  had 
wife  and  children  who  were  very  dear  to  him.  He 
had  often  expressed  to  me  his  deep  regret  for  the 
offence  which  had  brought  him  to  prison,  and  his 
firm  determination  to  steer  a  straight  course  in 
the  future.  There  were  extenuating  circumstances 
in  his  case,  too,  which  his  friends  were  at  this  very 
time  preparing  to  lay  before  the  Secretary  of  State. 
They  were  spared  their  pains ;  but  I  have  good 
hopes  that  he  was  able  to  carry  with  him  a  very 
sincere  repentance,  which  will  plead  eloquently 
for  him  before  a  Judge  whose  chief  attribute 
is  mercy. 

Dartmoor  is,  I  believe,  the  only  one  of  the 
existing  prisons  at  which  there  will  be  any  out- 
door employ  for  convicts  after  1883.  The  works 
at  the  other  stations  have  all  been  completed. 
The  Breakwater  at  Portland  was  finished  a  quarter 

72  Convict  Life. 

of  a  century  ago,  and  since  then  the  work  which 
has  been  done  for  the  War  Department  has  been, 
as  I  will  show  further  oa,  of  an  utterly  useless  cha- 
racter. Upon  the  moors  of  Devon  there  is  suffi- 
cient employment  for  the  number  of  men  stationed 
there  for  the  next  two  hundred  years  if  the  work 
goes  on  as  rapidly  as  it  has  done  heretofore. 
Whether  what  is  done,  in  the  way  it  is  done,  is  of 
much  practical  value  is  an  open  question;  and 
I  really  think  that  the  Government  would  find  it 
pay  to  employ  some  reliable  scientific  man,  and 
some  thoroughly  practical  agriculturist,  who 
could  give  an  opinion  about  future  operations. 
My  view  is  only  that  of  an  ordinarily  intelligent 
man ;  but  I  think  that  labour,  time,  and  money 
are  being  uselessly  squandered. 
■  I  am  quite  sure  that  all  that  the  land  is  at  pre- 
sent made  to  produce  could  be  purchased  in  the 
market  for  less  money  than  it  now  costs,  leaving 
the  labour  employed  altogether  out  of  the  question, 
and  reckoning  it  as  wasted,  which  it  certainly  is. 
I  have  lately  conversed  with  some  practical  men 
who  are  well  acquainted  with  Dartmoor  and  its 
capacities.  They  are  unanimous  in  thinking  that 
with  thorough  draining  the  whole  moor  might  be 
converted  into  magnificent  pasture  lands  of  in- 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  73 

estimable  value.  I  can  testify  that  all  the  work 
now  done  towards  draining  the  land  is  executed 
so  carelessly  and  recklessly  that  it  is  very  inef- 
fective. I  have  seen  miles  of  drain-pipes  laid 
and  covered  in,  which  could  not  be  other  than 
inoperative,  unless — as  is  not  often  the  case — the 
laws  of  nature  were  suspended  or  reversed.  All 
that  the  officers  in  charge  care  for,  is  to  get  so 
many  feet  of  piping  laid  down  for  the  governor's 
inspection.  Whether  the  drains  ever  do  drain 
the  land,  is  no  aflFair  of  theirs. 

At  Portland  there  is  a  little  good  stone-dressing 
done.  During  the  year  1877  a  great  many  stones 
were  sent  away  to  Borstal,  near  Chatham,  and 
also  to  some  works  in  progress  at  Sunningdale, 
but  there  is  such  a  lack  of  earnestness  and  busi- 
ness management  in  the  work  that  had  the  stones 
been  charged  for  according  to  the  time  expended 
upon  them,  and  at  the  rate  of  wages  paid  to 
a  free  stone-dresser,  the  contractor  would  have 
been  compelled  to  add  twenty-five  per  cent, 
to  his  price  in  order  to  avoid  loss.  Labour  is 
considered  of  no  value  upon  "  public  works," 
and  when  sales  are  made  of  stones  dressed  by 
convicts,  the  amount  they  have  cost  the  Govern- 
ment  in    food   and   clothing    for    the  prisoners, 

74  Convict  Life. 

and  the  wages  of  the  men  who  watch  them,  is 
not  taken  into  consideration  at  all ;  if  it  were, 
the  prices  would  be  so  high  that  no  sales  could 
be  effected. 

It  is  no  exaggeration  to  say  that  an  industrious 
free  stone-mason  would  do  as  much  work  in  an 
hour  as  a  convict  at  Portland  performs  in  a  day. 
There  is  no  task ;  a  man  may  take  a  month  over 
a  stone  3  feet  by  2  feet  if  he  chooses,  so  long  as 
he  gives  the  officer  in  charge  of  him  no  trouble. 
There  is  one  very  large  stone-dressing  party  who 
work  close  to  the  prison  gates  ;  a  year  and  a  half 
ago  it  comprised  nearly  eighty  men,  many  of  them 
being  desperate  characters,  or  men  with  very  long 
sentences,  whom  it  was  not  thought  prudent  to 
send  far  away  from  the  prison ;  taking  the  party 
altogether  it  was  composed  of  men  who  should 
have  been  made  to  work  hard,  and  they  were 
employed  upon  work  which  with  ordinary  good 
management,  combined  with  industry,  should 
have  been  remunerative. 

What  is  the  fact  ?  Why  this,  that  putting  the 
very  lowest  market  price  upon  the  time  occupied 
in  the  preparation  of  the  stones,  each  stone  cost 
the  Government  considerably  more  than  double 
the  price  for  which  it  was  sold.     A  year's  work 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  75 

by  these  eighty  men  would  have  been  done  by  the 
same  number  of  hands  in  an  ordinary  stone- 
mason's yard  certainly  within  a  month.  Free 
men  working  as  leisurely  as  convicts  are  allowed 
to  work  in  the  stoneyards  at  Portland,  could 
not  possibly  earn  their  bread ;  and  with  such 
habits  engendered  in  prison,  what  right  have 
the  Government  to  suppose  that  when  prisoners 
are  discharged,  they  will  be  false  to  their  prison 
training,  and  suddenly  become  possessed  of 
habits  of  industry,  which  will  enable  them  to 
be  honest  ? 

The  work  upon  which  the  majority  of  the  con- 
victs at  Portland  are  employed  is  still  less  profit- 
able. It  is  not  only  the  total  loss  of  the  labour 
of  hundreds  of  men  who  are  maintained  at  great 
expense  by  the  Government,  but  it  involves  an 
immense  outlay  of  the  funds  voted  for  the  use 
of  the  War  Department. 

For  many  years  a  corps  of  engineers  and  one 
or  two  batteries  of  artillery  have  been  stationed 
at  Portland  barracks.  I  am  quite  in  accord  with 
the  truth  when  I  say  that  for  the  last  twenty 
years,  the  labour  of  500  convicts  has  been  wasted 
upon  the  Bill  of  Portland ;  wasted  in  providing 
practice  for  the  engineer  corps,  and  amusement 

76  Convict  Life. 

for  the  artillery  branch  of  the  service.  The  real 
cost  of  convicts  to  the  country  is  never  known, 
because  a  charge  for  their  labour  is  made  by  the 
Convict  Department  on  the  War  Department,  and 
is  smuggled  into  the  Army  estimates. 

While  I  was  at  Portland,  racquet- courts  and 
billiard-rooms  were  built  by  convicts  for  the  con- 
venience and  pleasure  of  army  officers,  and  orna- 
mental grounds  laid  out  for  croquet  and  cricket. 
An  ordinary  contractor  would  have  completed 
these  works  in  one-fifth  of  the  time  that  was 
occupied  by  the  convicts,  and  with  less  than  one- 
fifth  the  number  of  men.  But  this  is  the  least 
portion  of  the  corruption  which  exists.  For 
twenty  years  the  convicts  have  been  building 
ornamental  batteries,  which  surely  can  be  of  no 
earthly  use  as  coast  defences.  With  such  care- 
lessness are  they  constructed,  that  I  have  seen  the 
same  work  done  over  again  in  three  successive 
years,  and  batteries  that  have  resisted  the  weather 
for  two  seasons  I  have  seen  pulled  down  and  re- 
erected  at  a  diSerent  angle  to  suit  the  whim  of 
some  new-fledged  engineer. 

I  have  seen  a  hundred  men  employed  for  weeks 
on  barrow-runs,  destroying  a  hill,  and  wheeling 
away  the  earth  to  fill  up  a  valley  a  quarter  of  a 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  77 

mile  away;  the  very  next  summer  tlie  engineer 
officer  discovered  that  a  mistake  had  been  made, 
and  that  the  earth  must  be  carried  back  again ; 
and  this  sort  of  thing  has  been  going  on  for  the 
last  twenty  years. 

I  was  myself  one  of  a  party  engaged  for  six 
months  in  excavating  and  wheeling  away  earth 
to  a  distance  of  about  300  yards.  We  then 
built  some  slopes  and  embankments,  and  built 
them  so  carelessly  and  badly,  that  a  heavy  shower 
at  night  often  destroyed  the  work  of  the  day. 
After  a  few  more  months  the  work  was  completed 
and  looked  a  little  "  ship-shape."  The  captain 
of  engineers  came  round  with  his  theodolite  to 
inspect  the  works,  and  discovered  that  the  angles 
were  altogether  wrong.  When  I  left  Portland  in 
January,  1878,  a  hundred  or  two  of  convicts  were 
employed  in  doing  all  the  work  over  again.  It  is 
the  opinion  of  many  of  the  officers  who  have 
charge  of  the  labour,  that  these  mistakes  of  the 
engineer  corps  are  intentional,  and  simply  designed 
to  provide  labour  for  the  convicts.  I  beg  leave 
to  suggest  that  they  are  very  expensive  means 
to  adopt,  and  that  it  is  rather  too  bad  to  call 
upon  the  taxpayers,  not  only  to  support  convicts 
who  earn  no  part  of  their   subsistence,  but    to 

78  Convict  Life. 

lavisli  large  sums  in  providing  occupation  and 
amusement  for  them. 

It  is  not  my  business  here  to  discuss  the 
propriety  of  erecting  ornamental  batteries  along 
the  south  coast,  but  I  am  satisfied  that  if 
during  the  recess  some  Members  of  Parliament 
would  take  the  trouble  to  visit  and  inspect  the 
coast  defences  upon  the  Bill  of  Portland,  they 
would  come  to  the  same  conclusion  at  which  I 
arrived,  viz.,  that  half-a-dozen  of  the  guns  used 
in  modern  naval  warfare  would  in  half-a-dozen 
hours  blow  the  so-called  coast  defences  into 

The  truth  of  my  statements  about  the  way  in 
which  work  is  performed  can  be  easily  proved, 
if  some  Member  will  move  in  the  House  of 
Commons  for  a  return  of  the  works  executed 
by  convicts  for  the  War  Department  at  Portland 
during  the  period  named ;  the  cost  of  the  labour, 
and  of  the  implements  and  material  incidental 
to  the  labour  ;  together  with  the  expenses  of  the 
engineers  and  artillerymen  engaged  in  superin- 
tending it.  When  this  return  has  been  made, 
let  some  honest  Commissioner  go  down  and  see 
what  the  War  Department  have  got  to  show 
for  their  money.     I  am  told  that  these  strictures 

Convict  Labour  and  Association.  79 

would  apply  equally  well  to  Portsmouth,  and  to 
Chatham,  but  I  have  only  spoken  of  what  I  have 
seen  with  my  own  eyes,  and  what,  if  allowed  the 
opportunity,  I  could  prove  before  a  Committee 
of  the  House  of  Commons.  I  am  guilty  of  no 
exaggeration  when  I  say  that  two-thirds  of  the 
convicts  are  maintained  at  great  expense  to  the 
country,  and  yield  nothing  in  return,  and  that 
this  result  is  the  consequence  of  bad  manage- 
ment and  a  corrupt  system. 

80  Convict  Life. 



IT  is  my  intention  to  make  this  chapter  a  desul- 
tory one.  I  want  to  convey  to  my  readers 
some  idea  of  the  character  of  the  average  prison- 
warder,  and  I  wish  to  relate  a  few  remembrances 
of  eminent  criminals  with  whom  I  came  in  con- 
tact. I  think  the  object  I  have  in  view — a  reform 
of  the  present  system — will  be  best  served  if  I 
talk  about  the  prisoners  and  officers  in  the  same 

Immediately  after  conviction,  all  convicts  in 
England,  Scptland,  and  Wales  are  sent  to  what 
are  called  "  separate  prisons,"  in  which  they 
are  detained  for  nine  months  to  undergo  their 
"probation."  Roman  Catholics  are  confined  in 
Millbank  Prison  for  this  purpose ;  associates  of 
the  Church  of  England  and  other  Protestants 
go  to  Pentonville.  / 

In  these  separate  prisons,  and  during  the  nine 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  81 

montlis  of  probation,  convicts  are  supposed  to 
be  governed  under  tlie  silent  system.  I  have  no 
doubt  that,  even  to-day,  the  directors  of  her 
Majesty's  convict  prisons — good,  innocent,  use- 
less men — imagine  that  their  regulations  are 
carried  out. 

I  had  not  been  in  the  prison  twenty-four  hours 
ere  I  discovered  that  Sir  Robert  Walpole's  doc- 
trine, if  not  absolutely  true,  would  not  find  many 
exceptions  amongst  prison  warders.  Certainly 
every  second  man  "  had  his  price." 

At  Pentonville  the  warder  has  sole  charge  of 
what  is  called  a  "  landing,"  or  floor,  and  this 
includes,  I  think,  about  forty  prisoners.  On  this 
landing  the  warder  is  supreme ;  he  distributes  the 
food  and  the  work,  and  if  things  go  smoothly  he 
is  not  interfered  with,  or  visited  by  the  principal 
or  chief  warder  more  than  once  in  a  week.  He 
knows  at  what  hour  the  Governor  or  Deputy- 
Governor  maybe  expected  to  "walk  his  rounds," 
and  then,  of  course,  everything  is  in  apple-pie 
order.  At  the  end  of  each  landing  there  is  a 
closet  and  store-room.  Only  one  prisoner  is  sup- 
posed to  be  there  at  a  time ;  and  if  two  prisoners 
are  out  of  their  cells  at  the  same  time  for  clean- 
ing purposes  the  officer  is  supposed  to  take  espe- 


82  Convict  Life. 

cial  care  that  they  hold  no  communication  with 
each  other.  This  is  the  theory.  What  is  the 
practice  ?  Well,  that  depends  upon  the  amount 
of  the  fee  you  can  give  the  warder.  The  British 
Government  is  not  an  economical  one,  but  it  is 
often  economical  in  the  wrong  place.  In  the 
Convict  Department  it  gives  small  salaries  and 
imposes  great  responsibilities.  It  engages  indi- 
gent and  ignorant  men  without  any  high  moral 
qualities,  and  the  result  is  corruption  and 
"  malfeasance  in  office." 

When  I  was  at  Pentonville  I  had  a  dear  friend, 
since,  alas,  for  me !  gone  to  another  world.  He 
was  to  me  faithful  amongst  the  faithless.  My 
folly  did  not  alienate  his  great  heart.  Perhaps 
he  knew,  what  I  hope  was  true,  that  I  was  not 
all  bad,  and  that,  even  after  so  disastrous  a  fall, 
penitence  would  come,  and  conscience  would  be 
roused,  and  I  should  "  rise  again  "  into  a  life  of 
purity  and  honour.  At  all  events,  he  stuck  to 
me  and  visited  me  in  prison  when  I  was  deserted 
by  everybody  else. 

I  very  soon  discovered  that  it  was  possible  to 
communicate  with  him  and  yet  elude  the  scrutiny 
of  the  Governor's  office  over  my  letters.  I  am 
quite  conscious  now,  that  in  availing  myself  of 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  83 

the  services  of  corrupt  officials,  I  was  guilty  of  a 
wrongful  act,  and  which  I  now  sincerely  regret ; 
but  only  those  who  have  been  deprived  of  com- 
munication with  all  in  the  world  that  they  hold 
dear,  can  understand  how  great  is  the  tempta- 
tion in  this  matter  to  break  the  rules  whenever 
an  opportunity  presents  itself.  As  a  result  of 
my  first  letter  by  this  "  underground  railway," 
my  friend  called  at  the  house  of  the  corrupt, 
but,  to  me,  useful  warder.  The  next  morning 
I  had  the  daily  papers  with  my  breakfast ;  the 
same  evening  I  had  my  Pall  Mall  with  my 
supper ;  and  they  were  breakfasts  and  suppers, 
for  I  was  supplied  with  dainties  and  luxuries 
which  had  no  place  in  the  "  bill  of  fare  "  of  her 
Majesty's  prison. 

This  continued  during  the  whole  of  the  nine 
months  of  my  stay  at  Pentonville.  On  my 
removal  to  Brixton,  where  I  only  stayed  seven 
weeks,  I  could  have  made  equally  favourable 
arrangements,  but  sickness  had  laid  hold  of  my 
friend,  and  before  I  left  Brixton  he  was  dead. 
To  return  to  Pentonville :  this  Mr.  Warder  had, 
to  my  knowledge,  half-a-dozen  other  clients 
upon  his  landing,  so  that  he  was  able  to  double 
his  salary  at  the  very  least.     At  the  Christmas  of 

G  2 

84  Convict  Life. 

1873  my  friend  took  him  a  large  turkey,  a  sirloin 
of  beef,  puddings,  pies,  &c.,  which  not  j  only 
fed  me,  but  regaled  his  family  for  a  fortnight. 
Other  privileges  resulted  from  the  feeing.  I  was 
installed  in  office  as  an  "  orderly."  Instead  of 
passing  the  weary  hours,  when  I  could  obtain  no 
readable  book,  in  the  solitude  of  my  cell,  I  whiled 
away  a  large  portion  of  my  time  in  the  store- 
closet,  in  conversation  with  other  "paying  pri- 
soners," the  warder  himself  keeping  watch  at  the 
staircase,  to  give  the  "  office "  in  case  of  the 
approach  of  visitors. 

Here  I  made  the  acquaintance  of  two  clergy- 
men of  the  English  Church  who  were,  of  course, 
men  of  intelligence  and  education,  and  with 
whom  it  was  a  pleasure  to  converse.  One  of 
them,  I  fear,  was  in  prison  not  for  the  first  time, 
the  other  had  been  convicted  of  forging  some 
stock  of  an  insurance  company  of  which  he  was 
a  director.  His  version  of  his  downfall  was 
naturally  a  very  plausible  one,  but  it  was  very 
apparent  to  me  that  he  had  been  anxious  to 
obtain  a  larger  share  of  "  loaves  and  fishes " 
than  he  could  legally  claim.  His  reverence 
I  had  evidently  a  great  liking  for  old  port,  and 
many  a  bottle  of  that   gouty  beverage  used  to 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  85 

find    its    way   from    his    cellar   in   Yorkshire  to 
Pentonville  prison. 

I  met  both  these  clergymen  afterwards  at 
Portland.  The  first-named,  an  Irishman,  lost 
nearly  the  whole  of  his  remission  by  infrac- 
tions of  the  prison  rules,  trafficking  in  tobacco, 
and  other  little  peccadilloes  of  that  sort. 
The  Yorkshireman  was  more  canny ;  he  kept 
himself  straight,  made  friends  with  the  doctor, 
was  invalided,  and  transferred  to  Woking.  I 
must  say  he  was  the  j oiliest- looking  invalid  I 
ever  came  across. 

Another  of  my  associates  on  this  landing  was 
a  man  for  whom  I  felt  a  very  deep  sympathy. 
He  bribed  the  warder,  but  it  was  for  no  other 
purpose  than  to  obtain  more  frequent  news  of  his 
wife,  to  whom  he  was  devotedly  attached,  and 
who  was  wasting  away  of  consumption.  He  had 
graduated  at  Oxford,  and  had  achieved  some 
success  in  his  profession ;  but  an  absurd  desire 
for  display,  and  an  ambition  to  keep  as  liberal  a 
table  and  as  well-bred  horses  as  his  richer  neigh- 
bours, had  led  him  into  difficulties,  from  which  he 
sought  to  extricate  himself  by  forgery.  His  act 
and  the  folly  which  led  up  to  it  could  not  be 
apologized  for  ;  but  then  I  was  also  a  sinner,  and 

86  Convict  Life. 

I  sympathized  with  the  man  when  I  saw  what 
agony  he  suffered  in  the  knowledge  that  his  loved 
wife  was  dying,  and  that  he  could  not  be 
near  to  comfort  her.  No  doubt,  the  conviction 
of  her  husband  hastened  the  poor  young  wife's 

One  morning, — I  think  it  was  in  September 
1873, — the  poor  fellow  was  summoned  into  the 
presence  of  the  Governor.  I  will  describe  the 
interview,  because  it  portrays  the  character  of 
the  Governor.  I  know  that  he  had  many  rough 
characters  to  control,  who  require  rough  treat- 
ment. At  times,  no  doubt,  he  did  well  to  be 
stern;  but  there  are  times  when  even  the  governor 
of  a  prison  should  unbend,  and  when  sternness 
degenerates  into  brutality.  This  Governor  was 
a  militia  or  volunteer  officer,  and  so,  of  course, 
stood  severely  on  his  military  dignity  ;  he  insisted 
upon  a  salute  from  everybody,  officers  and  pri- 
soners, whenever  he  made  his  appearance. 

On  this  September  morning  my  sorrowing 
neighbour  had  been  greatly  disappointed  at 
getting  no  news  of  his  wife  through  the  warder. 
At  noon  he  was  ushered  into  the  awful  presence 
of  the  Governor.  He  was  in  a  nervous  state, 
and    not    thinking    much    of    military    tactics, 

Covkids  and  their  Guardians.  87 

when  the  stern  voice  of  the  chief  warder  called 
out, — 

"  'Ands  by  your  side  !    Hies  to  your  front ! " 

Governor. — "  Do  you  know  a  Mrs.  Warner  ?" 

Prisoner. — "  Yes,  sir." 

Governor. — "  Who  is  she  ?    a  relative  ?'* 

Prisoner. — "She  is  a  friend  with  whom  my 
wife  is  staying,  and  she  is  kindly  nurs " 

Governor. — "  That  will  do.  There  is  bad  news 
for  you.     Your  wife  is  dead.'* 

Chief  Warder. — "  Right  about  face  !  March  !" 

At  Portland  and  at  Dartmoor,  if  any  such 
event  occurred,  it  was  customary  for  the  governor 
to  authorize  the  chaplain  to  communicate  the 
news  privately  to  the  prisoner  in  his  cell,  and  I 
think  it  would  have  been  more  humane  if  the 
same  course  had  been  pursued  at  Pentonville. 

I  have  given  a  specimen  of  prison  officials, 
high  and  low,  at  Pentonville,  and  now  let  us  go 
to  Portland. 

The  change  seemed  at  first  an  unfortunate  one 
for  me.  The  doctor  passed  me  as  suited  for 
ordinary  hard  labour.  All  the  previous  physical 
exercise  of  which  I  had  partaken  had  been  for 
amusement.  I  once  won  the  silver  sculls  in  a 
sculling   match   at   Henley ;    1  had  taken  some 

88  Convict  Life. 

tolerably  rough  horse  exercise  in  my  time  in 
different  parts  of  the  world  ;  and  I  could  handle 
a  rifle  as  well  as  most  civilians ;  but  up  to  now 
I  had  been  a  total  stranger  to  the  pick  and  shovel, 
and  to  the  wheelbarrow. 

I  made  no  demur.  I  did  not  attempt  to  cant 
myself  into  the  chaplain's  good  graces  and  get 
myself  made  a  tailor ;  I  did  not  follow  the  ex- 
ample of  scores  of  great  strong  lazy  fellows 
whom  I  saw  around  me,  men  who  had  never  been 
accustomed  to  the  refinements  or  even  comforts 
of  life,  men  who  had  come  from  the  kennel  and 
the  dungheap,  but  who  nevertheless  from  sheer 
laziness  went  crying  day  by  day  to  the  doctor, 
and  at  last  bored  him  into  a  certificate  for  "light 

I  went  to  work  with  a  good  heart.  I  knew 
that  by  my  own  folly  and  wickedness  I  had  de- 
graded myself  to  a  convict's  life,  and  I  resolved  to 
make  the  best  of  it  and  try  to  do  my  duty.  I 
took  my  pick  and  shovel  and  became  an  "  exca- 
vator." The  work  required  of  convicts  on  a 
barrow-run  at  Portland  is,  I  should  think,  to  a 
man  at  all  accustomed  to  the  labour,  mere  amuse- 
ment. I  worked  at  it  for  four  months,  and  then 
I  had  to  give  in  ;    but  this  was  not  because  too 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  89 

much  work  was  required  of  me.  The  continual 
stooping,  which  was  new  to  me,  certainly  sent 
me  home  twice  a  day  with  a  pain  in  my  back ; 
but  the  strain  upon  me,  which  reduced  me  rapidly 
from  twelve  stone  to  nine,  was  mental,  and  was 
not  chargeable  to  my  work. 

It  was  in  the  summer  of  1874,  on  a  bright 
warm  day,  that  I  had  to  succumb.  I  could 
scarcely  walk  back  to  the  prison  in  the  dinner- 
hour  ;  I  was  led  down  to  the  infirmary,  and  soon 
found  myself  under  the  penetrating  eye  of  the 
assistant- surgeon,  Dr.  Bernard.  As  this  gentle- 
man was  afterwards  made  a  scapegoat  in  a  case 
where  a  prisoner  was  supposed  to  have  died 
through  neglect,  I  will  say  wliat  I  know  about 
him  and  about  doctors  generally  in  the  service. 

The  duties  of  a  medical  officer  in  a  convict 
prison  are  not  only  very  responsible  and  arduous, 
but  very  difficult  to  perform.  I  recollect  that 
during  a  considerable  portion  of  last  year,  out  ot 
about  1,000  men  at  Dartmoor,  150  applied  to  see 
the  doctor  every  day.  I  speak  entirely  of  my 
own  knowledge  and  from  information  gained  from 
the  men  themselves,  when  I  say  that  certainly 
100  out  of  the  150,  had  nothing  on  earth  the 
matter  with  them,  and  had  they  been  free  men, 

90  Gonvict  Life. 

would  no  more  have  thought  of  going  to  the 
doctor  than  they  would  of  going  to  church. 
With  some  prisoners  it  is  merely  a  mania ;  they 
will  do  anything,  take  anything,  or  go  anywhere 
for  variety. 

Another  large  class,  and  not  at  all  an  insignifi- 
cant percentage  of  the  whole,  actually  trouble  the 
medical  officer,  utter  a  lying  complaint,  and  take 
a  dose  of  medicine,  for  no  other  purpose  than  to 
get  near  a  *'  pal"  who  has  also  arranged  to  be  on 
'the  doctor's  list.  The  object  is  to  do  a  little 
stroke  of  business.  A  prisoner  whose  labour  is 
out  of  doors  can  get  a  little  piece  of  tobacco 
from  an  officer,  if  the  prisoner  who  works  indoors 
can  give  him  in  exchange  some  needles  or  some 
thread,  or  a  piece  of  cloth,  or  a  piece  of  leather, 
with  which  the  aforementioned  officer  can  mend 
his  boots,  or  some  boot-laces.  The  articles  named 
are  of  course  stolen  from  the  tailors'  and  shoe- 
makers' shops,  and  the  exchanges  are  frequently 
made  during  the  medical  officer's  visit,  and  whilst 
the  prisoners  are  waiting  their  turn  to  see  him. 

Then  there  is  another  class  of  prisoners  who, 
without  the  slightest  reason,  complain  day  after 
day  for  weeks  of  "  extreme  weakness,"  and  "  faint- 
ing sensations."     Their  hope  and  their  object  is 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  91 

to  worry  the  doctor  into  ordering  them  a  daily 
dose  of  cod-Hver  oil.  They  often  succeed ;  the 
doctor  having  no  time  to  go  into  detail,  and 
feeling  that  it  is  better  for  him  to  err  on  the 
side  of  humanity.  I  knew  scores  of  men,  both 
at  Portland  and  Dartmoor,  who  were  for  months 
taking  tonics  and  cod-liver  oil,  who  had  nothing 
on  earth  the  matter  with  them,  and  who  used  to 
chuckle  to  their  pals  over  their  success  in  hood- 
winking the  "croker." 

There  is  another  large  class  of  prisoners  who 
systematically  "^'fake"  themselves,  as  they  call  it; 
and  unless  the  medical  officer  is  a  man  of  great 
experience,  or  a  very  shrewd  fellow,  he  is  often 
taken  in.  I  knew  one  strong,  hearty,  lazy  young 
fellow  at  Portland,  who  was  able  in  some  way 
to  produce  blood,  and  to  deceive  the  medical 
officer  with  the  notion  that  his  lungs  were 
in  a  bad  state.  I  am  tolerably  sure  that  the 
doctor  doubted  the  fellow,  but  being  uncertain, 
gave  him  the  benefit  of  the  doubt.  The  conse- 
quence was,  that  he  was  employed  at  the  lightest 
kind  of  labour,  and  at  last  transferred  to 
Woking,  where  I  have  no  doubt  he  finished 
his  very  easy  lagging.  This  young  rascal  took 
good  care  to  complain  at  all  times  to  the  medical 

92  Convict  Life. 

officer ;  he  avoided  the  assistant  medical  officer, 
who  was  too  sharp  for  him,  and  for  a  great  many 
more  of  the  scamps. 

I  knew  another  man,  a  man  of  some  education 
too,  and  who  onght  to  have  known  better — a 
man  who,  by-the-by,  had  been  a  clerk  in  the 
Convict  Department.  He  had  been  sentenced  to 
five  years  for  some  swindling  in  connection  with  it. 
He  was  a  great,  strong,  powerful  fellow,  as  well 
able  to  do  a  day's  work  as  any  man  on  Portland 
Bill.  His  habit  was  to  eat  common  soda,  which 
he  used  to  obtain  from  the  men  employed  in  the 
washhouse,  and  which  he  used  to  pay  for  with 
tobacco  obtained  from  an  officer.  "With  this  soda 
he  was  able  to  produce  some  effect  which  deceived 
the  medical  officer,  and  he  was  kept  upon  the  light- 
est description  of  labour  during  his  whole  sentence, 
and  was,  when  discharged,  as  fat  as  a  porpoise. 

Another  deception  practised  to  a  very  great 
extent  is  produced  by  the  eating  of  soap.  The 
action  of  the  heart  is  very  much  influenced  by  it, 
and  scores  of  men  sneak  into  the  infirmary,  or 
evade  their  labour,  by  using  it.  It  is  also  well 
known  that  quite  a  number  of  prisoners  resort  to 
more  violent  means  to  avoid  labour,  disabhng 
themselves  in  an  endless  variety  of  ways. 

Convicts  and  their  Chiardians.  93 

Witli  the  knowledge  of  all  these  facts,  it  is 
certainly  the  duty  of  medical  officers  in  the 
convict  prisons  to  keep  a  sharp  look-out ;  and, 
as  I  have  said,  it  is  of  immense  importance 
that  they  should  be  men  of  experience  and 
shrewdness,  otherwise  there  is  a  great  danger 
that  in  their  determination  not  to  be  '*  done," 
they  may  sometimes  refuse  treatment  where 
it  is  really  required.  Quite  at  the  beginning 
of  this  year  Dr.  Harrison,  who  was  assistant 
medical  officer  at  Dartmoor,  obtained  his  well- 
earned  promotion,  and  was  transferred  to 
Wormwood  Scrubs.  Dr.  Harrison  was  the  most 
painstaking  and  careful  man  I  saw  in  the  service. 
If  he  erred,  it  was  always  on  the  side  of  huma- 
nity, and  he  certainly  never  refused  treatment 
where  it  was  needed;  and  yet  this  man  was 
called  a  butcher  and  a  murderer  by  some  of  the 
scoundrels  who  could  not  practise  upon  him. 

In  the  spring  of  this  year,  and  after  my  dis- 
charge, a  green  young  doctor  was  sent  to  Dart- 
moor on  probation,  who  evidently  did  not  intend 
to  be  "done,"  but  he  was  too  smart.  He  lacked 
experience,  and  so  was  taken  in  by  sharpers,  and 
neglected  men  who  really  required  treatment. 

On  the  21st  of  last  June  I  received  a  letter  by 

94  Convict  Life. 

Underground  Railway  from  a  prisoner  of  some 
education  who  has  no  love  for  sharpers  or 
habitual  criminals,  and  whose  word  may  be  taken. 
He  writes,  "  Dr.  Power  has  been  transferred  to 
Portsmouth,  and  we  have  had  here  in  his  place  " 
— well,  I  will  leave  out  the  name  and  my  corre- 
spondent's rather  violent  description  of  the  doctor. 
He  proceeds,  "  He  emptied  the  infirmary  of  all 
the  sick  men,  and  kept  in,  and  pampered,  all  the 
sham  lunatics  and  the  fellows  who  were  '  putting 
the  stick  on.'  Let  two  instances  of  his  treatment 
suffice.  B  1183,  James  McDermot,  had  been 
complaining  daily,  for  months,  of  yellow  jaundice. 
Upon  one  occasion  he  fell  out  of  the  ranks  of  his 
party,  when  proceeding  to  work,  for  the  purpose 
of  seeing  the  doctor.  The  doctor  told  him  there 
was  nothing  the  matter  with  him,  and  that  if 
he  troubled  him  again  he  would  send  him  to  the 
punishment- cells.  At  length,  when  no  longer 
able  to  walk,  he  did  trouble  him  again,  and  was 
admitted  to  the  infirmary;  but  it  was  too  late, 
for  after  three  weeks'  infirmary  treatment  he  was 
buried.  In  another  instance,  Leon  Hendy,  a 
Frenchman,  considered  the  best  tradesman  in 
the  carpenter's  shop,  complained  daily,  but  could 
get  no  treatment.     In  the  meantime  Dr.  Smalley 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  95 

was  appointed  to  this  post.  As  soon  as  lie  arrived 
lie  admitted  Hendy  at  once,  and  did  liis  best  for 
him ;  but  it  was  too  late,  he  had  been  neglected 
too  long,  and  in  eight  days  he  was  dead." 

I  have  quoted  this  letter,  but  I  do  not  wish 
to  convey  the  impression  that  these  things  often 
occur.  They  do  not.  It  is  the  doctors  who 
are  "done"  in  the  majority  of  cases,  not  the 
prisoners ;  but  in  order  that  the  schemes  of 
impostors  may  be  as  much  as  possible  frustrated, 
and  that  on  the  other  hand  really  necessitous 
cases  should  receive  attention,  I  think  I  am 
justified  in  urging  upon  the  Directors  the  im- 
portance of  appointing  only  such  men  as  are 
shrewd  and  skilful.  In  justice  to  them  I 
ought  to  state  that  the  man  who  made  these 
blunders  at  Dartmoor,  and  who  was  on  probation 
for  the  post  of  Assistant  Medical  Officer,  was  not 

Let  me  now  go  back  to  my  own  experience 
at  Portland,  and  to  Dr.  Bernard.  The  moment 
he  saw  me,  and  scarcely  asking  me  a  question, 
he  gave  the  order,  "Put  that  man  to  bed."  In 
bed  I  remained  for  five  or  six  weeks,  receiving 
from  Dr.  Bernard  the  best  possible  treatment, 
as  much  nourishing  food  as  I  could  take,   and 

96  Convict  Life. 

constant  attention  from  him  daily.  This  was 
in  1874 ;  and  from  that  time  until  the  hour 
of  my  release  I  never  had  to  lay  up  for  a 
day.  Dr.  Bernard  made  a  man  of  me,  and 
I  went  again  to  outdoor  labour  and  continued 
at  it  until  my  removal  to  Dartmoor  in  1878. 

I  have  said  that  Dr.  Bernard  was  dismissed 
the  service  on  account  of  his  supposed  neglect 
of  a  prisoner  who  died.  The  facts  are,  that  the 
coroner's  jury  made  some  ugly  remarks,  and  it 
became  necessary  that  there  should  be  a  victim. 
Why  it  should  have  been  the  assistant  medical 
oJ05cer  who  was  made  responsible  I  never 
understood ;  but  it  seems  that  the  chief  medical 
officer,  who  was  a  very  uncertain  man,  and 
acted  upon  impulses,  which  were  sometimes 
generous  and  sometimes  otherwise,  had  brought 
the  man  some  champagne  from  his  own  cellar 
the  day  before  his  death.  This  act  seems  to 
have  convinced  the  ignorant  jurymen  that  ♦  the 
medical  officer  could  not  have  been  at  fault, 
and  so  the  assistant  became  the  victim.  My 
observation  convinced  me  that  if  a  prisoner  was 
really  ill  he  always  got  treatment,  and  sldlful 
treatment,  from  Dr.  Bernard,  but  he  was  the 
very  deuce  at  unearthing  tricksters  and  schemers. 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  97 

The  man  who  died  had  been  a  trickster  for 
years,  and  at  last  made  himself  really  ill.  Dr. 
Bernard,  knowing  his  character,  perhaps  took 
little  interest  in  the  case ;  and  really,  I  think 
men  who  act  in  this  way  have  no  right  to 
expect  much  consideration  from  doctors  when 
they  are  indeed  ill.  Knowing  that  men  have 
been  "  faking "  themselves  for  years,  it  is  no 
wonder  if  a  doctor,  after  he  has  found  them 
out,  gives  little  heed  to  what  they  say. 

I  watched  Dr.  Bernard  very  closely,  for  the 
simple  reason  that  I  used  to  hear  all  the  schemers 
and  habitual  thieves  abuse  him,  and  whilst  I 
admit  that  he  was  sharp  and  severe  with 
tricksters,  his  treatment  of  men  who  were  really 
ill  was  skilful  and  kind. 

98  Convict  Life. 



THE  first  prisoner  whose  acquaintance  I  made 
in  the  infirmary  at  Portland  was  the  noted 
forger,  William  Roupell,  formerly  M.P.  for 
Lambeth.  He  was  head  nurse  and  doctor's 
factotum,  and  a  nice  easy  time  he  seemed  to 
have  been  having  during  the  greater  part  of  his 

Now,  while  I  am  so  strongly  of  opinion  that 
there  should  be  a  classification  of  prisoners,  I 
hold  that  it  is  manifestly  unjust  and  unfair  that 
any  partiality  should  be  shown  to  a  prisoner 
on  account  of  his  former  social  position,  or 
because  he  may  have  influential  friends  to 
whisper  into  a  Director's  ear.  That  Roupell 
had  such  friends,  and  that  great  partiality  was 
shown  to  him,  was  too  patent  to  escape  ob- 
servation, and  when  one  reflects  upon  the 
enormity   of  his   crime,  I    think    that   any   ex- 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  99 

ceptional  leniency  in  his  favour  was  scarcely 
justifiable.  I  found  Roupell  a  tolerably  in- 
telligent man,  but  not  particularly  so.  I  think 
I  shall  do  him  no  injustice  when  I  say  that 
most  of  his  reading  was  done  after  his  convic- 
tion. He  had  a  good  deal  of  cunning,  but  the 
little  knowledge  he  possessed  was  very  super- 
ficial, and  he  impressed  me  with  the  idea  that 
surely  it  could  have  been  nothing  but  ready- 
money  and  beer  which  deluded  the  electors  of 
Lambeth  into  supposing  him  to  be  a  statesman. 

I  believe  that  his  father  had  stood  in  the 
relation  of  "  Uncle  "  for  a  great  many  years  to 
the  denizens  of  the  classic  thoroughfares  which 
abut  upon  the  Westminster  Bridge  Road ;  and  as 
it  was  not  then  known  that  he  had  defrauded  an 
elder  brother  of  his  inheritance,  this  family  tie 
may  have  endeared  him  to  his  cousins  in  the 
New  Cut ;  I  rather  incline,  however,  to  the  behef 
that  it  was  oiily  the  beer  which  influenced  the 
incorruptibles  of  Lambeth. 

William  Roupell  told  me  that  after  finishing 
his  "  separates  "  he  had  been  sent  to  Portsmouth, 
and  had  there  been  compelled  to  work  in  the 
"  chain  -  cable  gang  "  at  the  dockyard.  "  Fine 
work  for  a  gentleman,"  he  remarked,  "  polishing 

H  2 

100  Convict  Life. 

chains."  I  asked  him  if  he  were  in  good  health, 
and  he  said,  *'  Oh,  yes ;  but  I  was  not  going  to  do 
that  sort  of  thing."  He  had  to  do  it,  it  seems, 
so  long  as  he  remained  at  that  station,  for 
Captain  Harvey,  the  present  estimable  governor 
of  Millbank  Prison,  was  then  in  command  there, 
and  he  was  not  open  to  any  outside  influences. 
E-oupell's  friends  could  produce  no  effect  upon 
Captain  Harvey ;  he  was  treated  with  humanity 
and  impartial  justice,  but  with  no  favour. 

As  I  was  for  a  few  days  under  the  control 
of  Captain  Harvey  prior  to  my  discharge, 
and  as  I  heard  a  great  deal  about  him  from 
both  officers  and  prisoners,  I  take  this  oppor- 
tunity of  saying  that  I  consider  him  a  model 
governor.  Strict  justice  is  in  his  hands  tempered 
by  consideration  and  humanity,  and  I  cannot 
help  adding  that  he  impressed  me  with  the  idea 
that  he  was  one  of  the  most  perfect  specimens  of 
an  English  gentleman  with  whom  I  had  ever 
come  in  contact. 

I  had  occasion  to  speak  to  him  almost  on  the 
eve  of  my  discharge,  and  he  volunteered  a  few 
words  of  good  advice,  in  the  spirit,  and  with  a 
gentleness,  which  one  would  expect  from  a  brother 
who  was  really  anxious  for  one's  true  welfare. 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  101 

I  felt  sincerely  grateful  to  him,  and  I  shall  always 
honour  him.* 

William  Eoupell,  finding  that  Captain  Harvey 
was  not  to  be  tampered  with,  pulled  another 
string.  Through  some  influence  brought  to  bear 
upon  the  Directors  he  was  transferred  to  Port- 
land, and  his  future  path  was  strewn  with  roses. 
He  was  soon  installed  as  head  nurse  in  the 
infirmary.  He  had  the  good  fortune  to  be  con- 
victed before  the  passing  of  the  Act  of  1864,  so 
that  he  was  entitled  to  a  very  difierent  diet  to 
that  served  out  to  the  rest  of  the  prisoners,  a 
better  diet,  in  fact,  than  can  be  regularly  obtained 
by  the  best  and  most  honest  and  sober  of  English 

Roupell,  however,  was  not  satisfied  with  that. 
By  some  means  or  other  he  had  got  on  the  blind 
side  of  governor  and  doctors,  and  there  was  no 
luxury  ordered  to  any  sick  man  which  was  not 
at  the  command  of  William  Roupell.     I  tasted 

*  In  paying  this  tribute  of  respect,  I  think  it  right  to  add 
that  I  never  was  brought  before  Captain  Harvey  for  any 
breach  of  prison  rules,  and  therefore  had  no  opportunity  to 
receive  any  favour  at  his  hands,  and  that  had  such  been  the 
case  I  am  quite  sure  that  he  would  have  punished  me  accord- 
ing to  my  deserts. 

102  Convict  Life. 

neither  fish  nor  poultry,  game  nor  fruit,  for  nearly 
six  years,  but  I  saw  Roupell  get  such  luxuries 
every  day,  and  he  never  lacked  port  wine, 
bottled  stout,  and  brandy.  He  had  a  nice  little 
piece  of  garden  given  him  in  the  infirmary 
grounds,  and  here  he  built  himself  a  summer- 
house  and  a  grotto,  and  he  whiled  away  pleasant 
hours  in  tending  his  flowers. 

In  the  afternoon  he  frequently  went  down  to 
the  governor's  private  office  for  an  hour  or  two. 
What  he  did  there  I  do  not  know  of  my  own 
knowledge,  but  officers  who  had  no  interest  in 
lying  about  the  matter  told  me  that  he  had  access 
to  the  newspapers,  and  that  his  correspondence 
was  unhmited.  He  made  a  great  display  of  his 
piety.  I  thought  it  too  lavish  and  obtrusive  to  be 
genuine  ;  but  I  hope  I  was  mistaken.  The  chap- 
lains did  not  think  so,  and  they  ought  to  know 
better  than  myself.  He  stood  high  in  their  good 
graces,  and  indeed  was  "hail-fellow-well-met" 
with  governors,  doctors,  and  chaplains.  To  the 
schoolmasters  and  principal  warders  he  assumed 
a  patronising  air.  Altogether  he  had  quite  a  jolly 
time  of  it,  and  was  even  better  off  than  the  late 
occupant  of  the  Westminster  Clock-tower,  for 
his  nights  were  not  disturbed  by  the  ticking  or 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  103 

striking  of  either  "Big  Ben"  or  his  "grand- 
father's clock." 

I  made  the  acquaintance  of  another  prisoner 
who  claimed  to  have  been  born  with  a  silver 
spoon  in  his  mouth,  and  as  what  I  have  to  say- 
about  him  will  necessitate  the  revelation  of  a 
remarkable  instance  of  the  corruptibility  of  prison 
officials,  it  may  be  considered  germane  to  my  pur- 
pose. Now,  although  I  think  that  with  one  slight 
alteration  the  present  prison  diet  would  be  a 
sufficient  and  wholesome  one,  it  certainly  is  not, 
and  ought  not  to  be,  a  fattening  one. 

The  moment  I  saw  "Mr.  Vane"  I  was  convinced 
that  he  had  "  other  resources,"  for  he  was  in 
splendid  condition.  He  was  of  large  physique, 
and  would  naturally  require  a  little  more  food 
than  some,  but  his  proportions  were  grand,  and  he 
looked  as  well-fed  as  any  Lord  Mayor.  This  Vane 
was  not  a  good-looking  man,  and  certainly  bore 
no  personal  resemblance  to  the  Yane-Tempests ; 
but  he  had  plausible  manners,  and  by  dint  of  hard 
lying  and  fictitious  letters  from  a  woman  outside 
who  addressed  him  by  that  name,  he  had  induced 
the  chaplain,  doctor,  and  Scripture  -  reader  to 
believe  that  he  was  Lord  Ernest  Vane-Tempest. 
He   so  imposed  upon  the  credulity  of  a   kind- 

104  Convict  Life. 

hearted  old  clergyman  who  sometimes  visited  the 
prison,  that  the  good  old  dupe  parted  with  some 
considerable  sum  of  money  for  the  purpose  of 
aiding  a  woman  with  whom  the  convict  had  lived, 
and  whom  he  said  he  had  privately  married. 
His  story  was  that  he  had  hidden  his  real  position 
at  the  time  of  his  conviction,  to  shield  his  family 
from  disgrace,  and  that  they  were  still  ignorant 
of  his  downfall,  and  supposed  him  to  be  in 
America.  Consideration  for  the  family  doubtless 
prevented  the  authorities  from  making  inquiries, 
but  I  fancy  the  governor  always  doubted  the  story. 

The  real  Lord  Ernest  Vane-Tempest  had  in 
his  youthful  days  cow-hided  a  brother  oflScer  in 
the  Haymarket.  To  avoid  arrest  Lord  Ernest 
went  to  America,  and  during  the  Civil  War  served 
as  an  aide  on  the  staff  of  General  McClellan. 
On  his  return  to  England  he  was  pursued  by  his 
enemy,  and  was  imprisoned  for  a  short  time  as 
a  first-class  misdemeanant.  This  youthful  esca- 
pade gave  a  sort  of  colour  to  the  impostor*s 
tale,  and  his  weak-minded  dupes  swallowed  it 
on  the  "  Give-a-dog-a-bad-name-and-hang-him  '* 

The  real  Lord  Ernest  is  now,  and  always  was, 
a  man  of  high  honour,  and  unless  the  "  sprees  '* 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  105 

of  his  minority  are  to  be  quoted  against  Mm  still, 
lias  through  his  life  maintained  the  reputation 
of  a  gentleman.  I  told  the  chaplain  on  one 
occasion  that  this  fellow  was  not  Lord  Ernest ; 
for  that  I  had  seen  and  known  that  nobleman, 
but  as  he  seemed  to  think  I  was  mistaken  I 
troubled  no  more  about  it. 

One  day  the  party  to  which  I  was  at  the  time 
attached  were  called  to  assist  No.  27  party,  in 
which  Vane  was  to  load  some  stones.  I  made 
an  excuse  to  get  near  him,  and  addressed  him 
thus:  "Mr.  Vane,  I  think."  "Yes,  I  am." 
"Do  you  know  Lord  Ernest  Vane- Tempest ? " 
"  "Well,  yes,  I  should  think  so  ;  do  you  not  know 
who  I  am  ?  "  "  No,  I  cannot  say  that  I  do  ;  but 
I  know  Lord  Ernest  Vane-Tempest,  and  he  and 
I  have  frequently  breakfasted  together  at  Wil- 
lard's  Hotel  in  Washington."  This  Vane  gave 
me  a  wide  berth  afterwards  ;  indeed,  he  was  in  a 
few  weeks  discharged.  "What  I  learned  after- 
wards from  the  officer  who  provided  him  with  his 
aldermanic  fare,  shows  that  these  constitutional 
thieves  do  their  best  to  "  keep  their  hands 
in,"  even  in  prison.  This  rascal  succeeded  in 
his  rogueries. 

I  think  it  was  in  the  summer  of  1876  that  I, 

106  Convict  Life. 

amongst  others,  was  drafted  into  a  party  which 
worked  some  "  trawleys  "  on  the  incline  leading 
down  to  the  Breakwater.  I  soon  found  that 
the  officer  in  charge  was  what  prisoners  call  a 
"  square  man,"  that  is,  a  man  who  could  be 
squared.  He  was  an  Irishman,  had  been  a 
colour-serjeant  in  the  Infantry,  was  decorated 
with  four  or  five  medals,  and  was  in  receipt  of  a 
pension  of  some  two  shillings  and  threepence  per 
day.  It  is  not  necessary  to  relate  how  I  became 
intimate  with  him,  but  after  awhile  he  told  me 
the  history  of  his  connection  with  "  Mr.  Vane." 
Vane  had  thoroughly  satisfied  this  man  that  he 
was  Lord  Ernest,  that  upon  his  release  he  would 
obtain  possession  of  an  estate,  and  that  in  return 
for  the  services  rendered  to  him  in  prison  he 
would  appoint  this  officer  his  steward,  with  a 
house  and  salary  of  two  hundred  per  annum. 

In  addition  to  these  great  promises,  he  also 
gave  the  "  screw "  a  promissory-note  for  two 
hundred  pounds,  at  the  foot  of  which  he  forged 
the  name  of  Lord  Ernest  Vane-Tempest,  and 
which  note  I  afterwards  had  in  my  hand.  On 
the  strength  of  this  the  corrupt  official  furnished 
this  scoundrel  with  tobacco  day  after  day  for  two 
years.     There  were  two  other  prisoners,  tools  of 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  107 

Vane's,  in  tlie  secret ;  the  tobacco  was  planted  in 
certain  places  upon  the  works,  and  carried  into 
the  prison  and  exchanged  for  the  beef  and 
mutton  upon  which  Mr.  Vane  got  so  fat. 

So  satisfied  was  the  officer  that  he  had  got 
hold  of  a  good  thing,  that  when  Vane  was  dis- 
charged, he,  not  having  sufficient  money,  pawned 
his  watch  in  order  that  his  Lordship  might  have 
a  fashionable  suit  of  clothes  in  which  to  go  home 
and  "take  possession  of  his  estates."  Not  hear- 
ing from  his  Lordship  according  to  promise,  the 
"  screw  "  got  leave  of  absence,  and  made  a  visit 
to  Plymouth  to  look  up  his  Lordship.  He  did 
not  find  him  at  the  fashionable  address  he 
expected,  but  after  some  trouble  he  unearthed 
him  in  a  low  lodging-house,  at  which,  he  assured 
me,  he  would  not  have  stayed  himself.  *'  The 
gaff  was  blown  "  now,  but  the  swindler  was  safe ; 
he  knew  that  the  "  screw  "  could  not  prosecute 
him  for  forgery  without  criminating  himself. 

This  corrupt  officer,  who  is  only  a  sample 
of  plenty  more  at  Portland  and  proportionate 
numbers  at  other  stations,  had  several  irons  in 
the  fire  in  1876,  and  was  trying  to  make  up  his 
Vane  losses.  He  was  bleeding  the  family  of  a 
young  man  from  Leicester,  whose  friends  were 

108  Convict  Life. 

well  off,  and  he  did  this  under  pretence  of  accom- 
modating the  prisoner  with  luxuries.  But  one 
of  his  acts  was  such  a  flagrant  robbery  that, 
although,  for  the  sake  of  a  young  lady  of  good 
position  who  is  implicated,  the  fellow  cannot  be 
prosecuted,  I  think  it  my  duty  to  expose  it  for 
two  reasons  :  one  is,  that  it  may  incite  the  Direc- 
tors of  the  Convict  Department  to  keep  a  sharper 
eye  on  these  rascals  ;  and  the  other  is  that 
it  may  prevent  persons  of  respectability,  who 
may  be  unfortunate  enough  to  have  a  relation 
in  prison,  from  becoming  the  victims  of  these 

A  man  of  good  family  committed  an  offence  in 
1873  which  sent  him  into  penal  servitude.  His 
family  deserted  him,  but  a  young  lady,  herself 
the  niece  of  the  governor  of  a  London  prison, 
and  to  whom  the  man  was  betrothed,  visited 
him  in  the  House  of  Detention  without  the 
knowledge  or  consent  of  her  relatives.  Up  to 
the  time  of  his  conviction  she  supplied  him  with 
such  luxuries  as  he  wished,  carrying  them  to  the 
prison  daily  with  her  own  hands.  After  his 
conviction  and  removal  to  a  convict  prison  she 
cheered  him  by  her  letters.  The  prisoner  be- 
came acquainted  at  Portland  with  the   "  square 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  109 

warder"  in  question.  He  had  sufficient  honour 
not  to  desire  to  tax  his  lady-love  to  send  him 
luxuries ;  but  he  knew  that  she  would  gladly  pay 
for  more  frequent  correspondence,  and  he  made 
arrangements  with  the  "  screw."  For  some 
time  the  letters  came,  then  they  failed.  They 
failed,  because  in  them  the  young  lady  spoke 
of  having  sent  money  to  procure  him  luxuries. 
When  the  prisoner  was  discharged,  he  found  that 
his  lady-love  had  parted  with  a  considerable  sum 
of  money  to  this  fellow  under  the  delusion  that 
she  was  ministering  to  the  comfort  and  happiness 
of  her  lover. 

For  aught  I  know  this  officer  is  still  in  the 
service,  and  perhaps  still  fattening  on  the  proceeds 
of  other  knaveries. 

In  the  exercise-yard  at  Portland  one  Sunday 
I  made  the  acquaintance  of  a  prisoner,  whom 
I  mentioned  incidentally  in  another  chapter. 
He  was  educated  for  the  priesthood  of  the 
Catholic  Church,  and  was  therefore  a  man 
of  some  culture;  but  his  propensities  were  so 
thoroughly  immoral,  and  his  intentions  for  the 
future,  as  detailed  to  me,  are  of  so  dangerous 
a  character,  that  he  will  require  to  keep  a  sharp 
look-out  or  he  will  find  more  "  breakers  ahead." 

110  Convict  Life. 

He  was  a  good-looking  man,  with  ex- 
ceedingly plausible  manners  ;  and,  I  should 
think,  about  forty  years  of  age.  But  although 
good-looking  and  agreeable  in  his  manners,  he 
always  reminded  me  of  Bulwer  Lytton's  "  Candid 
Man."  He  was  too  frank,  too  familiar,  too 
degage  to  be  perfectly  natural,  and  he  had  a  sly 
and  cunning  expression  in  his  perverse  and 
vigilant  eye  which  used  to  make  me  shudder. 

It  may  be  recollected  that  this  fellow  had  by 
taking  fashionable  lodgings  in  Mayfair  and 
sporting  a  brougham  induced  a  "West  -  End 
jeweller  to  send  for  his  wife's  inspection  three  or 
fouj*  thousand  pounds'  worth  of  jewellery.  With 
the  assistance  of  his  wife  he  drugged  the  man 
with  chloroform,  and,  leaving  him  asleep,  took 
the  diamonds,  made  good  his  escape  into  Holland, 
and  disposed  of  the  greater  part  of  them.  The 
wife  was  arrested,  but  acquitted  on  the  ground 
that  she  acted  under  the  influence  of  her 
husband.  When  a  few  months  had  elapsed  he 
ventured  back  into  England  to  call  for  his  wife, 
intending  to  embark  with  her  for  "  Dixie's 
Land."  His  wife  had  been  watched;  he  was 
"  trapped,"  and  sentenced  to  eight  years'  penal 
servitude.      He  played   his   cards   very  well   at 

Convicts  and  their  Ouardians.  Ill 

Portland,  had  an  easy  time  of  it,  and  was  a 
strong,  healthy-looking  fellow  when  discharged. 
Erom  his  own  admissions  to  me  he  lived  in 
clover  in  London  for  many  years,  and  secured 
a  good  income  from  the  proceeds  of  bogus 
advertisements  in  the  London  Times. 

As  I  notice  advertisements  every  day  in  the 
leading  papers,  which  I  have  no  doubt  are 
spurious,  I  presume  that  this  class  of  thieves  still 
find  "gulls."  Here  is  a  sample  of  this  prisoner's 
many  devices,  dictated  by  his  own  lips  : — 

"  The  captain  of  a  steamship,  trading  to 
Brazil,  has  been  instructed  by  a  wealthy  noble- 
man of  that  country  to  obtain  for  him  a  first-class 
governess  for  his  children.  She  must  be  familiar 
with  the  Spanish  language,  and  thoroughly 
competent  to  instruct  in  Enghsh,  French,  and 
music.  To  a  competent  person  the  nobleman  is 
willing  to  pay  the  unusual  salary  of  £400  a  year, 
together  with  board,  lodging,  and  first  -  class 
travelling  expenses.  Applications  must  be 
accompanied  by  complete  and  minute  testi- 
monials,   and   addressed    to   Captain    , 

Southampton-street,  Strand,  London." 

To  this  tempting  advertisement  he  received 
nearly  two  hundred  replies  from  all  parts  of  the 

112  Convict  Life. 

United  Kingdom  and  the  Continent.  To  each 
one  he  gave  the  same  answer, — She  was  one  of 
the  fortunate  three  whom  he  had  selected  from 
a  host  of  applicants,  and  whose  testimonials  he 
had  determined  to  forward  to  Brazil,  casting  the 
onus  of  final  selection  on  the  nobleman  himself. 
The  postage  of  the  testimonials  to  Brazil  would 
cost  about  10s.  6d. ;  and  if  that  amount  were 
forwarded  by  return  of  post,  the  package  would 
go  out  by  the  next  mail.  He  assured  me 
that  more  than  a  hundred  fools  were  green 
enough  to  fall  into  his  trap. 

This  is,  of  course,  but  a  sample  of  his  mul- 
titudinous schemes.  His  intention  when  dis- 
charged was  to  go  to  New  York,  and  he  in- 
formed me  that  he  had  perfected  a  scheme 
which  would  defy  detection,  and  by  which  he 
intended  to  make  a  fortune  out  of  New  York 
bankers.  I  sincerely  hope  that  Brother  Jonathan 
will  be  too  "  smart "  for  him. 

I  suppose  it  is  useless  to  caution  the  public 
against  bogus  advertisements,  they  having  been 
warned  again  and  again.  If  a  situation  is 
offered  on  the  condition  of  the  deposit  or  pay- 
ment of  a  sum  of  money,  no  doubt  a  swindle  is 
intended.     If  a  man  who  wants  to  lend  money 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  113 

is  anxious  first  of  all  to  handle  the  money  of  the 
borrower,  no  doubt  he  is  a  swindler.  If  a  very- 
first-class  pianc  is  offered  for  sale  at  a  very 
low  price  by  a  lone  widow  requiring  immediate 
funds,  it  may  be  set  down  as  a  swindle.  If  a 
person  "  in  misfortune  "  desires  to  dispose  of  the 
duplicates  of  valuable  jewellery  which  has  been 
pledged  for  a  quarter  of  its  value,  the  person 
"  in  misfortune  "  is  a  sure  swindler. 

I  have  unfortunately  had  to  live  amongst 
swindlers  for  six  years,  and  have  heard  of  a 
great  many  of  their  tricks.  One  mean  little 
swindler  told  me  that  he  made  a  fair  living  for 
some  time  by  inserting  cheap  advertisements  of 
a  tempting  character  in  the  ClerJcenwell  News 
requiring  that  a  stamp  should  he  enclosed  for 
reply.     Of  course  no  reply  was  ever  sent. 

I  came  in  contact  at  Portland,  in  1874,  with 
Hilli  one  of  the  Yankee  "  skallewags "  who 
aided  that  clever  engraver  and  "cannie  Scot," 
Macgregor,  in  the  gigantic  forgeries  on  the  Bank 
of  England.  Hill  asserts  that  he  was  a  mere 
clerk  to  Macgregor  and  the  Bidwells,  and  seems 
to  have  hopes  that  his  friends  will  yet  succeed 
in  getting  an  alteration  of  his  sentence.  He  is 
a  very  good  prisoner,  and  I  think  has  never  been 


114  Convict  Life. 

reported.  He  has  always  been  under  a  strict 
and  special  guard,  and  has  been  employed  within 
the  precincts  of  the  prison,  the  authorities  fear- 
ing a  repetition  of  the  attempts  made  in  London. 
Hill  has  I  am  sure  given  up  all  idea  of  escape, 
and  is  doing  his  best  to  keep  a  good  character, 
so  that  he  may  at  least  secure  his  freedom  at 
the  end  of  twenty  years. 

Last  year,  at  Dartmoor,  I  came  in  contact 
with  another  of  the  party,  the  elder  Bidwell. 
He  has  pursued  entirely  different  tactics  to  Hill, 
and  has  given  ten  times  more  trouble  to  the 
authorities  than  any  prisoner  has  ever  done 
before.  From  the  first  he  has  steadily  refused 
to  use  his  legs,  asserting  that  they  are  paralysed. 
As  the  doctors  have  used  the  batteries  upon  him 
several  times,  they  know  that  it  is  all  a  fraud. 
Still  he  persists,  and  his  legs  are  now  no  doubt 
stiffened  from  misuse.  If  he  could  be  compelled 
to  walk  short  distances  at  first,  and  then  longer 
ones,  he  could  speedily  obtain  the  use  of  his 
limbs,  but  he  is  very  obstinate ;  and  if  the 
authorities  send  him  to  the  tailors'  shop,  or 
anywhere  else  to  work,  they  have  to  put  him  on 
the  back  of  another  prisoner,  and  when  he 
arrives  there  he  refuses  to  work.     He  has  had 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  115 

any  amount  of  bread-and-water  punisliment,  and 
has  thoroughly  deserved  it,  for  in  addition  to 
his  laziness  and  obstinacy,  and  imposture,  his 
habits  are  of  the  most  filthy  and  disgusting  cha- 
racter. He  is  not  likely  to  live  to  come  out  of 
prison  again,  but  that  is  his  own  fault. 

Apropos  of  swindles.  I  came  in  contact  with 
a  good  many  of  the  "  cadger "  class  who  had 
stepped  over  the  cadging  line  and  dropped  into 
felony.  I  was  very  much  amused  with  the 
story  of  an  old  brute  named  Chown,  who  came 
from  Torquay.  He  did  a  little  swindle  upon 
that  large-hearted,  generous,  and  truly  noble 
lady,  the  Baroness  Burdett-Coutts.  I  have  no 
doubt  she  is  exposed  to  similar  attacks  every 
day.  It  was  Christmas-time,  and  the 
Baroness  was  distributing  her  Christmas  gifts. 
He  called,  and  was  awarded  half-a-sovereign. 
Her  ladyship  asked  the  old  rascal  if  he  had  a 
wife,  and  he  was  ready  with  his  artful  lie,  and 
said  that  he  had,  and  five  children.  He  was  told 
to  send  her  up.  He  found  a  woman  of  bad 
character,  took  her  up,  and  by  a  plausible  and 
piteous  tale  obtained  another  half-sovereign,  a 
piece  of  beef,  two  blankets  and  a  cloak.  I  felt 
that  I  should  like  to  wring  the  neck  of  the  old 

I  2 

116  Convict  Life. 

vagabond  when  I  heard  him  chuckle  over  the 
way  in  which  he  had  done  Lady  "  Cadet  Boots," 
as  he  called  her. 

There  were  two  or  three  beauties  at  work  in 
the  same  party  with  this  fellow.  I  recollect  one 
contemptible  hound  who  told  me  that  he  had  not 
been  at  liberty  for  three  weeks  before  he  was  again 
"  lagged,"  and  had  not  seen  his  wife  or  children. 
He  said  he  was  on  the  drink,  and  as  he  had 
cleared  everything  out  of  his  home  upon  which 
he  could  raise  sixpence  at  the  pawnshop,  he 
knew  it  was  of  no  use  to  go  there.  His  wife 
had  been  slaving  to  get  bread  for  five  children, 
and  when  he  left  his  home  he  left  it  without 
a  crust.  He  told  the  tale  himself  ;  of  course  he 
had  no  shame,  or  he  would  not  have  lived  to 
tell  it.  He  got  up  in  the  early  morning  and 
sneaked  out  of  the  house  with  his  wife's  boots, 
very  indifferent  ones,  but  the  only  ones  in  the 
family,  and  invaluable  to  her,  for  without  them 
she  could  not  go  to  her  labour  and  get  scant 
bread  for  the  children  of  this  drunken  savage. 
Upon  these  boots  he  raised  ninepence  at  the 
pawnbroker's,  and  spent  it  at  the  next  tavern 
for  gin. 

This    wretch    was    in    the    church    choir   at 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  117 

Portland,  and  took  tlie  Sacrament  regularly. 
I  wonder  it  did  not  choke  him.  I  have 
heard  him  say  that  the  first  use  he  should 
make  of  his  gratuity  on  his  discharge  would  be 
to  get  a  quart  of  beer  and  a  quartern  of  gin, 
and  in  that,  if  in  nothing  else,  I  have  no  doubt 
he  will  keep  his  word.  In  the  face  of  such 
evidence  who  can  wonder  at  the  earnestness 
and  enthusiasm  of  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson  ?  I 
wish  him  God-speed  with  all  my  heart. 

During  the  whole  time  of  my  imprisonment 
I  kept  my  ears  wide  open  to  glean  all  that  I 
could  from  criminals  themselves  about  the  causes 
of  crime.  I  cannot  avoid  the  conclusion  that  gin- 
palaces  are  but  half-way  houses  on  the  road  to 
a  convict  prison.  In  them  the  victim  lays  in 
fresh  supplies,  which  help  him  to  complete  his 

If  men  would  use  their  wits,  and  keep  their 
heads  cool,  they  would  ascertain  that,  if  they 
really  desire  to  possess  a  good  conscience,  a 
peaceful  home,  and  happiness  in  the  future, 
there  is  no  highway  to  these  luxuries  through 
the  tavern  or  the  gin-palace.  If  they  will  but 
open  the  eyes  of  their  reason  wide  enough, 
they  may  see  inscribed  over  the  door  of  every 

118  Convict  Life. 

gas-bedizened  and  flaunting  gin-palace  in  the 
land  this  inscription,  "  No  Thoroughfare  to 
Honesty  or  Happiness." 

This  drink  and  tavern  curse  is  not  confined  to 
the  lower  class.  Let  me  give  the  instance  of  two 
young  men  whom  I  saw  at  Dartmoor.  The  first 
was  in  a  mercantile  house  in  the  City.  He  be- 
came enamoured  with  one  of  the  painted  and 
powdered  decoy-ducks  who  are  on  exhibition  at 
the  premises  of  a  notorious  publican  within  a 
mile  of  Kegent  Circus.  At  first  he  spent  a  shilHng 
or  two  nightly;  but  he  quickly  found  that  the 
road  to  favour  with  his  inamorata  was  a  bottle  of 
Moet,  of  which  she  and  her  painted  sisters  par- 
took fi^eely,  very  often  a  second  bottle,  and  then 
a  third.  The  acquaintance  soon  ripened ;  excited 
with  the  champagne,  a  diamond  ring  was  pro- 
mised, then  an  emerald,  then  ear-drops  and  a 

On  Sunday  a  trap  was  hired,  and  this  young 
man,  who  had  a  loving  mother  and  sisters  at 
home,  and  a  virtuous  young  sweetheart  who  was 
breaking  her  loving  heart  over  him,  disported 
himself  at  Richmond  in  the  company  of  a  gin- 
drinking  and  beer-drawing  harlot.  He  told  me 
himself  that,  from  the  time  he  first  went  to  that 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  119 

tavern  he  never  went  to  bed  perfectly  sober,  and 
that  all  his  follies  were  committed  under  the 
influence  of  champagne.  He  at  last  robbed  his 
employers  in  order  to  obtain  money  to  supply 
this  woman  with  dress  and  jewels  and  champagne, 
and  he  is  now  ruminating  over  his  wickedness  on 
the  bogs  of  Dartmoor. 

He  had  the  mortification  to  learn  from  a  friend, 
while  awaiting  his  trial,  that  his  inamoratai  whom 
he  supposed  would  be  weeping  over  his  downfall, 
used  to  sell  his  presents  to  keep  a  lazy,  drunken 
husband,  with  whom  she  lived,  after  tavern  hours, 
in  a  dingy  lodging  in  Dean  Street,  Soho.  He 
was  also  informed  that  his  corner  in  the  bar 
had  already  been  filled  up  by  another  ninny, 
which  ninny  has  probably  by  this  time  arrived 
at  the  same  depot. 

The  other  fellow  was  one  for  whom  I  felt  really 
sorry.  At  the  time  of  his  conviction  he  was  on 
the  eve  of  passing  an  examination  for  one  of  the 
learned  professions ;  but  he  had  been  an  Tiahitue 
of  the  bufiet  of  what  I  will  call  the  "  Royal  Grill 
Room"  Theatre,  and  a  lounger  at  the  stage-door 
of  that  celebrated  establishment.  He  made  the 
acquaintance  of  one  of  the  "ladies  of  the  ballet," 
a  party  whose  mother  probably  lived  in  "  Short's 

120  Convict  Life. 

Gardens,"  or  "Fullwood's  Rents,"  and  who  had 
been  taught  to  drink  gin  from  her  babyhood  in 
the  purlieus  of  Drury  Lane. 

The  "young  lady"  had  learned  her  lesson. 
When  invited  to  supper  she  declined  everything 
but  "  fizz."  Her  suppers  and  those  of  her  lover 
often  amounted  to  a  sovereign  and  a  half.  She 
was  so  good  a  customer  to  the  landlord  that  a 
good  word  was  spoken  for  her  to  the  manager ; 
and,  as  her  lover,  under  the  influence  of  cham- 
pagne, promised  to  provide  for  her  the  hand- 
somest dress  and  boots  that  the  costumier  could 
provide,  she  was  promoted  to  the  front  row  of 
the  ballet.  Here,  adorned  by  jewellery  her  lover 
had  committed  forgery  to  obtain,  and  set  off 
to  the  best  advantage  by  the  dress,  boots,  and 
tights  he  had  bought  for  her,  she  attracted 
the  attention  of  the  Hon.  Arthur  Numskull,  of 
the  Crutch  and  Toothpick  brigade.  She  gave  her 
old  friend  the  cold  shoulder  at  once,  and  he  had 
the  mortification  to  see  her  handed  into  the 
Hon.  Arthur's  brougham  when  the  theatre  closed. 
He  went  to  the  Royal  Grill-room  buffet  and  got 
drunk  by  himself  that  night.  Going  to  his 
chamber  in  a  maudlin  state,  he  forgot  to  take 
some  precaution  which  would  have  deferred  the 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  121 

revelation  of  his  crime,  and  about  twelve  the 
next  day,  and  before  he  was  sober,  he  was  in 

These  are  stern,  hard  facts,  and  I  learned  them 
from  the  men  themselves  while  under  punish- 
ment, afflicted  with  remorse,  and  after  they  had 
had  time  calmly  to  reflect  upon  their  conduct. 

Of  course  entanglements  with  women  of  this 
sort  are  always  effected  under  the  influence 
of  liquor.  A  sober  man  who  did  such  things 
would  be  sent  by  his  friends  to  a  lunatic 
asylum,  and  ought  to  be. 

I  have  set  these  things  down  because  I  know 
that  there  are  hundreds  of  young  men  in  London 
travelling  the  same  road.  These  lessons  ought 
to  warn  them.  They  may  take  my  word  for 
it,  a  convict  prison  is  a  very  hell  to  a  man  of 
any  culture  and  refinement  ;  herding  with 
"  Zulus  "  and  *'  Yahoos  "  can  be  nothing  to  it ; 
and  after  release  worse  still  will  be  their  fate  :  no 
character,  no  home,  no  friends,  no  employment. 
I  say  to  them  with  all  my  heart,  in  the  name 
of  Grod,  "  turn  up  "  taverns. 

122  Convict  Life. 



THERE  are  a  great  number  of  what  are  called 
"  confidence  men "  in  convict  prisons,  and 
I  think  they  invariably  belong  to  the  incorrigible 
class.  Their  assumption,  in  prison  as  well  as 
out,  and  their  unblushing  impudence  are  un- 
bounded. I  met  two  of  these  fellows  at  Port- 
land, and,  as  I  have  heard  of  them  both  since 
their  release,  it  may  be  interesting  to  show  that 
crime  is,  in  some  men,  ingrained. 

One  of  them  had,  I  believe,  really  borne  her 
Majesty's  commission  in  early  life.  He  called 
himself  Captain  Logan,  and  had  served  two 
terms  of  penal  servitude.  He  always  obtained 
the  means  of  living  when  he  happened  to  be 
free  by  sheer  bounce  and  bravado.  He  obtained 
goods  from  credulous  shopkeepers  by  seeming 
to  take  it  for  granted  that  he  was  known  as 
a  man  of  fortune  and  family,  and  that  to  doubt 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  123 

him  was  an  unpardonable  insult.  He  of  course 
raised  money  upon  everything  he  obtained  at 
the  nearest  pawnbrokers.  Now  and  then  he 
overdid  the  thing  and  was  "  trapped." 

The  sentence  which  he  finished  while  I  was 
at  Portland  was,  I  think,  one  of  twelve  years, 
sufficient,  one  would  imagine,  to  cure  any  man 
of  ordinary  intelligence  or  feeling.  Not  at  all, 
as  the  sequel  will  show.  In  prison  his  great 
object  seemed  to  be  to  earn  the  title  of  a 
"  dare-devil. *'  He  set  all  prison  rules  at  de- 
fiance, and  treated  the  authorities  with  con- 
tempt. He  never  did  any  work,  and  so  earned 
no  remission.  He  was  continually  under  punish- 
ment, and  did  850  days  of  his  sentence  upon 
bread  and  water :  at  least,  he  was  supposed 
to  have  done.  The  fact  was,  that  during  his 
whole  sentence  he  had  friends  outside  who 
were  foolish  enough,  through  corrupt  officers, 
to  supply  him  with  the  means  of  pampering 
his  appetite.  He  was  never  without  tobacco, 
and  with  tobacco  he  could  purchase  anything. 
I  regret  to  say  that  with  a  large  number  of 
"  screws "  he  was  the  most  popular  prisoner 
at  the  station.  In  the  absence  of  the  higher 
officials  he  simply  did  as  he  hked. 

124  Convict  Life. 

In  the  society  of  gentlemen,  or  educated 
men  of  ordinary  acumen,  this  fellow  would 
not  have  passed  muster  at  all.  Whatever  may 
have  been  the  respectability  of  his  family,  he  was 
an  ignorant,  vulgar  fellow.  He  sometimes  would 
sneak  up  by  my  side  at  the  Sunday  exercise,  but 
he  always  afflicted  me  with  nausea.  Still,  he  was 
wonderfully  successful  in  imposing  upon  the 
unsophisticated  and  upon  partially  educated  men. 

There  was  a  fellow  at  Portland  belonging 
to  the  middle  class,  a  man  of  tolerable,  but 
partial  education.  He  was  affianced  to  a  young 
lady  who  had  some  property  which  was  under 
lier  own  control,  and  his  only  hope  for  the 
future  was  in  marrying  her,  and,  aided  by 
lier  fortune,  making  a  fresh  start  in  some 
colony.  He  was  so  anxious  to  communicate 
with  her,  that  he  was  weak  enough  to  com- 
mission any  tolerably-educated  prisoner  who 
was  discharged  to  call  upon  her  with  messages. 
I  knew  his  weakness,  and  seeing  him  in  close 
conversation  with  Logan  one  Sunday  I  warned 
him  against  the  man.  It  was  of  no  use,  he 
was  sure  Logan  was  a  "  gentleman  "  and  would 
not  deceive  him.  He  certainly  did  not  deceive 
me.     As  I  expected,  his  first  act  after  arriving 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  125 

in  London  was  to  seek  out  the  girl.  He  first 
obtained  some  money  from  her  to  "relieve 
the  necessities  of  her  friend  in  prison."  After 
a  little  further  acquaintance  he  told  her  that 
he  felt  so  deep  an  interest  in  her  that  he 
could  not  help,  for  her  sake,  betraying  his 
friend  at  Portland.  He  assured  her  that  her 
lover  had  confided  to  him  the  secret  that  he 
did  not  care  for  her,  but  that  marriage  was 
his  only  chance.  This  led  up  to  his  real  object. 
He  did  his  best  to  entrap  the  poor  girl  into  a 
marriage  with  himself.  I  am  very  happy  to  say 
that  he  not  only  failed  in  that,  but  that  within 
a  few  weeks  he  was  again  convicted.  My  only 
regret  is  that  the  judge  did  not  sentence  him 
to  three  dozen. 

I  must  briefly  refer  to  another  confidence 
man,  because,  by  a  remarkable  coincidence,  he 
obtained  the  confidence  of  this  "  lover  "  I  have 
spoken  of  at  Portland,  and  played  almost  pre- 
cisely the  same  game  with  regard  to  the  young 
lady  that  Logan  had  done. 

This  man  I  have  referred  to  incidentally  be- 
fore ;  he  was  the  promoter  of  bubble  companies, 
and  the  associate  of  a  "  fishy "  baronet  who 
has   been  convicted  of  the  same  sort  of  thing. 

126  Convict  Life. 

His  great  game  was  to  obtain  confidence  by 
organizing  banquets  and  testimonials  in  bis  own 
honour.  Having  received  instructions  from  his 
fellow-prisoner  he  sought  out  the  young  lady 
as  soon  as  he  arrived  in  London.  He  told  a 
very  similar  tale  to  the  one  concocted  by  Logan 
as  to  the  lover's  duplicity.  He  invented  a  lie 
as  to  his  having  been  divorced  from  his  wife, 
the  real  fact  being  that  in  justice  to  her  own 
character  the  wife  had  been  compelled  to  leave 
him.  He  then  did  his  best  to  entrap  the  young 
lady  into  a  bigamous  marriage.  He  failed  in  this. 
I  was  describing  him  to  a  gentleman  high  in 
authority  at  Scotland-yard  the  other  day,  and  he 
told  me  that  he  believed  they  had  got  him  again. 
I  hope  he  was  not  mistaken. 

The  "  Claimant  "  had  left  Dartmoor  for  Ports- 
mouth before  my  arrival  at  the  former  place.  I 
heard  a  good  deal  about  him  of  course.  He 
is  said  to  have  given  an  infinity  of  trouble.  His 
applications  to  address  the  Home  Secretary,  and 
to  have  interviews  with  Directors,  governor, 
doctor,  and  priest  were  incessant.  He  applied  to 
be  admitted  to  the  church  choir  for  two  reasons, — 
he  obtained  a  more  comfortable  seat,  and  he  was 
excused  labour  on   Saturday  mornings   that   he 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  127 

might  attend  practice.  The  organist  assured  me 
that  he  had  no  notion  of  singing,  and  that  the 
noise  he  made  was  something  between  the  chirp 
of  a  crow  and  the  croak  of  a  raven. 

He  was  doing  his  best,  by  the  aid  of  French 
school-books  furnished  him  by  the  priest,  to 
master  the  French  language. 

When  the  Claimant  first  went  to  Dartmoor  he 
seems  to  have  had  a  good  friend  in  the  gentleman 
who  was  at  that  time  governor  of  the  prison. 
He  was  extremely  troublesome,  constantly 
breaking  prison  rules,  and  being  reported  for 
doing  so ;  but  so  long  as  the  Major  remained 
in  command,  he  was  never  punished,  and,  when 
he  received  visits  from  his  friends,  the  visits 
took  place,  contrary  to  regulations,  in  the 
governor's  office,  and  extra  time  was  allowed 

The  advent  of  Captain  Harris  as  governor  was 
a  misfortune  for  the  Claimant.  I  may  here 
take  the  opportunity  of  doing  an  act  of  sim- 
ple justice  to  Captain  Harris.  I  am  quite 
sure  that  if  the  son  or  brother  of  the 
Secretary  of  State  were  a  prisoner  under  his 
control,  he  would  be  treated  with  precisely  the 
same  indulgence  as  every  other  prisoner,  and  no 

128  Convict  Life. 

more.  The  Claimant  when  next  he  received  a 
visit  did  so  behind  the  bars,  and  within  the 
time  specified  by  the  rules.  When  reported  for 
insolence  he  was  sentenced  to  two  days'  bread- 
and- water,  and  he  got  a  second  punishment  for 
the  same  offence  and  some  others.  By  the 
doctor's  orders  he  had  8  oz.  of  additional  bread 
per  day  and  8  oz.  of  potatoes,  and  on  meat  and 
soup  days  he  had  increased  rations. 

I  presume  his  friends  induced  the  Home 
Secretary  to  have  him  transferred  to  Ports- 
mouth, where,  I  am  told,  he  is  fetching  a  toler- 
ably easy  "lagging."  Perhaps  the  air  there  is 
not  so  bracing,  but  at  Dartmoor  his  appetite  was 
enormous.  I  know  men  employed  in  the  tailor's 
shop  who  did  not  need  all  their  food,  and  who 
gave  him  some  constantly ;  and  the  orderlies 
who  carried  round  the  bread  were  in  the  habit 
of  yielding  to  his  entreaties  to  shy  him  a  loaf,  if 
a  "  good  screw  "  happened  to  be  on  duty.  By 
the  way,  a  "  good  screw,"  amongst  prisoners, 
means  a  man  who  does  7iot  do  his  duty.  I  knew 
a  little  Irishman  who  told  me  that  one  day  he 
was  able  to  give  the  Claimant  six  six  -  ounce 
loaves,  and  that  he  came  very  near  getting  three 
days  as  a  reward  for  his  good  nature. 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  129 

The  big  man  was  very  unpopular  with  some 
of  his  neighbours,  who  say  that  he  was  a  bad 
sleeper,  and  used  to  puff  and  blow,  and  grunt 
and  groan  all  through  the  small  hours.  He 
was  unpopular  with  the  warders  because  it  was 
with  the  greatest  difficulty  he  could  be  got 
to  scrub  his  cell,  or  keep  his  cell-furniture  clean. 

Before  turning  from,  the  prisoners  to  the 
officers,  I  will  take  the  opportunity  to  warn 
benevolent  and  well  -  meaning  religious  people 
against  the  pretensions  of  prisoners,  who,  on 
their  discharge,  set  up  for  converted  characters, 
and  seek  to  be  employed  in  evangelization. 

God  forbid  that  I  should  deny  the'  possibility 
of  a  man  who  has  erred  being  truly  penitent, 
and  desirous  of  pursuing  for  the  rest  of  his  life 
a  course  of  industry  and  honour.  Such  is,  I 
hope,  my  own  case,  and  I  j&rmly  believe  that  I 
have  met  with  others  who  have  determined  that, 
come  what  will,  their  life  shall  for  the  future  be 
one  of  inflexible  integrity. 

But  when  scamps  who  have  been  in  and  out 
of  prison  a  score  of  times,  and  are  so  well  known 
to  the  police  that  they  can  scarcely  hope  to  escape 
detection  if  they  continue  their  old  practices, 
take  up  a  new  line    in  which   to    pursue    their 


130  Convict  Life. 

roguery,  and  try  to  cant  themselves  into  the 
position  of  missionaries  and  Scripture-readers, 
they  are  surely  not  to  be  trusted.  Whenever  the 
missionary  box  or  the  "  bag  "  is  heavy  enough 
they  will  play  a  Judas  trick  upon  it.  Sincere 
men  will  go  honestly  and  quietly  to  earnest 
labour,  and  prove  their  faith  by  their  works.  I 
know  a  man  who  is  at  this  moment  in  the  tailor's 
shop  at  Dartmoor.  He  has  ingratiated  himself 
into  the  chaplain's  favour  by  his  assumed  devo- 
tion, and  by  regularly  partaking  of  the  Sacra- 
ment. He  has  thoroughly  made  up  his  mind 
that  when  released  he  will  adopt  the  "  religious 
dodge,"  as  he  calls  it.  He  says  that  he  is  sure,  by 
pulling  the  right  wires,  he  can  knock  a  living  out 
of  pious  dowagers  by  attempting  the  conversion 
of  the  bog-men  of  Connemara,  or  organizing  a 
special  mission  for  the  thieves' -quarters  in 
Seven-dials  or  Kent-street.  I  am  really  afraid 
he  could  find  dupes  to  aid  him.  If  he  wants 
a  character  or  a  recommendation,  he  shall  have 
it  now. 

I  conscientiously  believe  that  if  his  aged 
mother  had  but  half-a-crown  in  the  world,  and 
was  sleeping  with  it  beneath  her  pillow  for 
safety,  and  that  he  knew  her  bread  for  the  next 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  131 

week  depended  on  it,  he  would  in  the  dead  of 
night  sneak  out  with  it,  await  the  opening  of  an 
early  tavern,  and  remain  until  he  had  poured 
half-a-crown's  worth  of  the  decoction  sold  there 
down  his  villanous  throat. 

I  am  familiar  with  the  history  of  the  treachery 
of  Judas,  and  how  he  sold  his  Master  for  thirty 
pieces  of  silver.  After  a  long  and  involuntary 
intimacy  with  the  habitual  criminals  of  England, 
let  me  here  register  my  firm  conviction  that  the 
man  of  whom  I  speak,  and  the  great  majority 
of  his  associates  in  crime,  would  sell  their  own 
sister  for  a  quartern  of  gin,  if  no  higher  price 
could  be  obtained. 

Let  me  now  have  a  say  about  some  of  the  men 
at  present  employed  as  prison  warders ;  and  I 
shall  speak  of  prison  punishments  in  the  same 
connection,  because  the  two  subjects  are  so  inex- 
tricably connected.  A  very  large  proportion  of 
them  are  discharged  soldiers  and  sailors.  Now  I 
am  quite  conscious  that  army  reform  has  greatly 
raised  the  moral  status  of  soldiers  during  the  last 
fifteen  years,  but  is  it  not  a  fact,  that  twenty  or 
twenty  -  five  years  ago  the  army  was  recruited 
chiefly  from  the  dregs  of  the  population,  largely 
indeed  from  the  very  thief-class  ?     Scarcely  any 

K  2 

132  Convict  Life. 

man  enlisted  until  lie  was  barred  from  the  ranks 
of  decency. 

At  the  time  these  men  served  the  Crown  in 
the  army, — and  indeed  up  to  very  recent  times, 
— the  barrack-room  was  a  rookery  of  im- 
morality and  vice ;  and  the  men  taken  from 
such  a  source  are  not  very  likely  to  exercise 
a  moralising  influence  upon  prisoners  ?  The 
Government  takes  the  young  off'ender, — "  the 
first-timer,"  the  novice  in  crime,  the  man  of 
semi-respectability  who  has  stumbled, — and  it 
puts  him  between  two  hot  fires,  which  I  do  not 
think  are  calculated  to  purify  him.  It  gives 
him  as  companions  and  tutors  the  habitual 
criminals  whose  characters  I  have  tried  to  de- 
scribe, and  it  gives  him  as  monitors  and  masters 
a  set  of  beings  whose  morals  are  of  the  loosest, 
who  have  not  the  slightest  respect  for  truth  or 
honour,  and  whose  every-day  language  is  almost 
as  filthy  as  that  of  the  filthiest  whom  they  are 
paid  to  control.  I  have  spoken  of  their  corrup- 
tion. During  my  stay  at  Dartmoor  two  had  to 
abscond  to  escape  prosecution  for  felony,  one  was 
actually  a  principal  warder,  and  was  associated  in 
his  roguery  by  the  chief  clerk  of  the  governor, 
who  also  absconded.     Then  in  matters  of  honour 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  133 

and  truthfulness,  although,  of  course,  there  are 
many,  very  many,  honourable  exceptions,  yet  the 
rule  is  that  officers  will  say  anything  before  the 
governor,  if  for  any  reason  they  desire  to  get  a 
prisoner  punished,  or  if  it  is  desirable  in  order 
to  exculpate  themselves  from  blame. 

If  this  class  of  warders  had  to  control  only  the 
habitual  criminal,  I  do  not  think  it  would  matter, 
they  could  not  reduce  their  standard  of  morality, 
and  they  could  scarcely  do  them  an  injustice. 

If  the  Government  adopt  the  recommendation 
of  the  Commission  as  to  a  classification  of 
prisoners,  let  them,  if  they  must  retain  the  ser- 
vices of  this  class  of  men,  confine  them  to  the 
superintendence  of  the  abandoned  and  the  irre- 
claimable, and  seek  the  services  of  a  higher  and 
better  class  of  men  to  control  those  prisoners 
who  are  not  dead  to  all  sense  of  shame  and 
decency,  and  who  are  amenable  to  good  influences. 

A  case  occurs  to  me  which  happened  at  Dart- 
moor last  winter.  It  came  under  my  own 
observation,  for  I  knew  both  prisoner  and  officer, 
and  it  happened  while  I  was  at  work  close  to 
the  scene  of  it.  A  prisoner,  Jones, — nicknamed 
*'  Parson  Jones," — had  fallen  out  from  his  party 
to  see  the  doctor.     The  assistant-warder,  as  was 

134  Convict  Life. 

his  duty,  searched  Parson  Jones's  clothes,  and 
found  no  prohibited  articles  in  them.  Shortly 
after,  the  infirmary-warder  came  in,  and  gave 
Jones's  clothes  another  search,  not  knowing 
that  his  subaltern  had  done  so.  He  was  smarter 
than  the  assistant-warder,  and  found  some  brass 
weights  belonging  to  the  infirmary  scales  in 
the  prisoner's  pocket. 

Now,  to  have  stolen  these  was  of  course  a  very 
serious  offence,  and  would  certainly  subject  the 
prisoner  to  three  days'  bread-and-water,  a  month's 
penal  class  diet,  loss  of  three  months'  remission, 
which  is  tantamount  to  three  months'  longer 
imprisonment,  and  the  loss  of  all  his  class 
privileges,  tea,  letter- writing,  &c.  Fortunately  for 
the  prisoner,  and  unfortunately  for  the  corrupt 
warder,  the  latter  was  seen  by  another  officer  to 
deposit  these  weights  in  the  prisoner's  pocket. 
The  prisoner  was  able  to  prove  that  the  officer 
had  more  than  once  shown  animosity  towards 
him,  and  he  of  course  committed  this  dastardly 
act  to  get  the  man  unjustly  punished. 

Now,  although  this  man  was  removed  from  his 
post  in  the  infirmary  for  a  few  months,  he 
has  since  been  reinstated  in  his  old  position. 
I    venture   to    suggest    that    his    retention    in 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  135 

the  service  is  not  calculated  to  inspire  in 
the  minds  of  prisoners  —  or  such  of  them  as 
have  minds  —  a  proper  reverence  and  respect 
for  the  system  of  morality  and  justice  under 
which  they  live. 

The  necessity  for  a  more  careful  selection  of 
prison -warders  has  been  forced  upon  the  atten- 
tion of  the  Department  since  I  commenced  to 
pen  these  pages.  A  covey  of  convicts  took  flight 
fi'om  a  hay-field  at  Dartmoor.  The  details  of  the 
affair  were  specially  interesting  to  me,  because  in 
the  summer  of  1878  I  was  myself  a  haymaker 
in  the  field  from  which  the  exodus  took  place. 
The  gang  of  convicts  employed  there  on  this 
occasion  was  called  "  thirty-four "  party,  and 
were  in  charge  of  two  assistant-warders  and  a 
*'  civil  guard,"  aU  of  whom  were  armed  with 
loaded  rifles,  and  all  of  whom  are  well-known 
to  me. 

The. senior,  who  had  command  of  the  party,  is 
a  Devonian  peasant,  who  entered  the  British 
army  at  a  time  when  recruits  were  not  culled 
from  that  section  of  the  community  which  our 
Yankee  friends  would  call  "  high-toned." 

He  is  a  free-and-easy,  baccy-and-beer-loving 
old  pensioner,  who,  if  he  can  push  through  his 

136  Convict  Life. 

duties  without  a  fioe  and  get  behind  his  pipe  at 
the  "  Spotted  Dog "  in  Princetown,  is  happier 
than  the  Queen  he  serves. 

He  has  the  character  amongst  convicts  of  being 
a  "  square  man  "  and  "  as  right  as  a  trivet "  ;  in 
other  words,  the  discipline  in  his  regiment  is  so. 
If  a  convict — an  ordinary  convict — speaks  of 
an  officer  as  a  good  fellow,  he  means  that  he  is 
a  man  who  does  not  do  his  duty,  and  will  allow 
prisoners  to  ev^de  labour  and  break  rules  with 
impunity.  This  officer  is,  I  admit,  a  good- 
natured  fellow ;  after  dinner  he  is  especially 
good-natured,  and,  like  many  another  old  sol- 
dier, he  can  lean  upon  his  musket  and  take 
"  forty  winks."  He  had  the  misfortune  to  have 
as  his  assistant  on  the  day  in  question  a  very 
young  officer  who  was  not  an  "  old  soldier " 
in  any  sense  of  the  words,  and  who  not  long  ago 
was  a  wheelwright  in  a  Devonshire  village.  He  is 
a  well-intentioned,  good-natured  young  country- 
man, but  it  is  doing  him  no  injustice  to  say  that 
he  is  as  green  as  was  the  grass  which  the 
men  he  should  have  controlled  had  been  vainly 
trying  to  make  into  hay,  and  which  I  am  credibly 
informed  was  so  bad  in  quality  that  it  will  be 
spumed  by  every  intelligent  and  well-bred  horse. 

Convicts  nnd  their  Guardians.  137 

The  civil  guard  on  the  occasion  I  allude  to  was 
not  one  of  those  ofl&cious  persons  who  always 
want  to  know  what  is  going  on.  He  was  content 
to  chew  his  quid  and  let  his  eye  wander  over 
the  hills  towards  the  paternal  hut  in  dear  old 
Tavistock,  and  was  probably  at  the  moment  of  the 
escapade  contrasting  his  own  distinguished  posi- 
tion as  "  an  officer  in  her  Majesty's  service,"  in 
receipt  of  an  income  of  twenty-three  shillings 
per  week,  with  that  of  his  dear  old  plodding 
brother,  who  was  working  ten  times  as  hard  for 
half  the  money  away  over  the  moor. 

A  day  or  two  ago  I  received  a  letter  from 
a  prisoner  of  education,  whom  I  can  testify  to  be 
one  of  the  few  convicts  who  may  be  expected  to 
seek  readmission  to  the  ranks  of  the  virtuous 
when  he  is  released.  His  letter,  of  course,  came 
to  me  by  the  *'  Underground  Railroad."  It  will 
be  seen  that  he  was  attached  to  "  thirty-four 
party  "  at  the  time  of  the  flight : — 

"  Daetmooe,  8th  September  J  1879. 

"  Dear  , 

*  *  *  *  * 

"  I  suppose  there  has  been  quite  a  '  flare-up ' 

138  Convict  Life. 

in  tlie  London  newspapers  about  the  recent 
escapade.  As  you  will  recollect,  I  am  attached 
to  "thirty-four  party,"  so  that  I  saw  all  the  fun. 
The  escape  had  been  planned  during  the  day.  I 
was  not  invited  to  join  in  it  because  it  was  known 
in  the  party  that  I  had  but  a  few  months  to 
serve,  and  it  would  have  been  sheer  madness  to 
risk  three  months'  further  detention  for  any  such 
'  wild-goose  chase.' 

"  It  was,  indeed,  a  wild-goose  chase.  I  said 
it  was  planned.  There  was,  in  fact,  no  plan ; 
it  was  talked  about,  but  the  only  agreement 
was  that  each  man  was  to  take  a  different 
route  so  as  to  divide  the  pursuing  hounds.  One 
of  the  runaways,  a  man  named  Morgan,  was 
looked  up  to  by  the  rest  as  an  authority.  He 
had  last  year  escaped  from  the  custody  of  an 
officer  familiarly  known  as  '  Billy  Rowe.'  On 
that  occasion  he  chose  a  foggy  day,  and  actually 
eluded  his  pursuers  for  three  or  four  days,  and 
was  finally  captured  by  a  baker  in  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Plymouth.  I  may  mention,  incidentally, 
that  on  that  occasion  a  defect  of  vision  and  the 
fog  combined,  caused  warder  *  Billy  Rowe '  to 
mistake  a  brother  officer  for  the  runaway,  and 
to  pepper  Her  Majesty's  uniform  with  shot. 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  139 

*'  Convict  Morgan  assured  his  comrades  that 
his  capture  was  all  because  he  wandered  to  the 
precincts  of  a  great  city,  and  that  had  he  kept 
to  the  open  country,  hiding  by  day  and  travelling 
by  night,  he  could  have  reached  '  New  Babylon ' 
and  been  lost  in  the  mazes  of  Whitechapel. 

"  The  vision  of  convicts,  artful  and  cunning 
as  the  majority  of  them  are,  seems  to  be  ob- 
fuscated when  the  very  possibility  of  regaining 
liberty  is  danced  before  their  eyes.  I  pointed 
out  to  them  that  the  difficulties  were  insuperable, 
that  it  was  a  perfectly  clear  night,  and  that 
almost  every  object  upon  the  moor  for  twenty 
miles  was  visible.  I  also  reminded  them  that 
within  a  circle  of  five  miles  there  was  a  perfect 
cordon  of  labourers'  huts,  and  that  the  only 
possible  and  remote  chance  which  any  of  the 
denizens  of  these  huts  had  of  becoming  the 
possessor  of  a  five-pound  note  was  in  catching 
a  convict. 

"  I  suggested  to  them  that  Captain  Harris,  the 
Governor,  and  Captain  Johnson,  the  Deputy-Go- 
vernor, had  swift  horses,  and  were  probably  dead- 
shots  with  the  rifle.  I  told  them  that  a  man  in  a 
convict's  dress  who  was  known  to  be  a  thief  or  a 
ruffian  could  not  expect  assistance  or  aid  even  if 

140  Convict  Life, 

he  got  into  the  hands  of  those  who  would  not  be 
tempted  by  a  reward. 

'*  They  were  not  to  be  balked  in  their  scheme, 
they  meant  to  have  a  try  for  it,  and  they  did ;  a 
very  foolish  and  sorry  try  it  was.  I  quite  agree 
with  a  remark  whicli  I  heard  principal  warder 
Rundle  make  the  next  morning,  that  if  the  officers 
in  charge  had  been  at  all  awake  to  their  duty  no 
such  escapade  would  have  been  possible.  We 
had  stacked  our  rakes  and  forks,  so  that  we  were 
entirely  unarmed,  and  three  officers  armed  with 
loaded  rifles  were  in  charge  of  us.  We  were 
unwisely  allowed  to  go  alone  to  the  hedge,  which 
was  at  a  considerable  distance,  to  fetch  our 

"  '  Now  is  our  chance ! '  said  Morgan,  and 
over  the  hedge  went  the ,  conspirators.  As  I 
was  one  who  remained  behind  I  could  take  stock 
of  the  officers  in  charge.  They  were  supposed  to 
be  *  on  guard.'  I  must  say  I  never  saw  men 
so  completely  taken  *  ofi"  their  guard.*  They 
looked  very  like  the  historical  *  stuck '  animal, 
the  brothers  and  sisters  of  which  they  are  far 
better  qualified  to  take  charge  of  than  of  convicts. 
Had  the  capture  depended  upon  these  officers,  or 
even  of  their  brother  warders,  the  convicts  might 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  141 

to-day  be  starving  in  some  ditch  across  these 
barren  moors,  instead  of  revelling  as  they  are  at 
this  moment  in  a  pint  of  good  thick  shin-of-beef- 
soup,  a  pound  of  potatoes,  and  six  ounces  of  bread, 
at  the  expense  of  British  taxpayers. 

"  But  of  their  escape  there  was  no  fear. 
Thirty  or  forty  Devonshire  labourers  had  heard 
the  alarm-whistle  and  the  signal  gun.  They 
were  soon  joined  by  others,  and  in  strong  parties 
started  in  pursuit.  They  are  wise  in  their  gene- 
ration, these  Devon  peasants,  and  not  ambitious 
of  making  a  name  for  themselves  by  the  exhi- 
bition of  individual  prowess.  They  hunted  in 
gangs,  thinking  it  far  wiser  not  to  risk  single- 
handed  an  encounter  with  desperadoes.  I  think 
I  may  safely  say  that  for  the  reward  for  each  cap- 
ture there  will  be  at  least  half-a-dozen  claimants. 
Let  no  man  for  the  future  say  that  good  never 
comes  out  of  evil.  A  score  or  more  of  poor 
Devonians  have  anticipated  Michaelmas  and  be- 
come the  joyful  possessors  of  a  whole  golden 
sovereign ;  perhaps  some  poor  slipshod  daughter 
will  get  a  new  pair  of  boots,  and  then  she  will 
dream  that  the  golden  age  has  come,  and  that 
there  have  been  two  harvests  in  one  year. 

"  We,  cowards,  who   did  not  desert  the  flag, 

142  Convict  Life. 

were  marched  back  to  tlie  prison  under  guard. 
We  found  on  our  way  back,  and  on  arriving  at 
the  prison,  that  the  soul  of  each  official  was  *  in 
arms,  and  eager  for  the  fray.'  On  the  road  we 
met  an  excited,  pale-faced  youth,  who,  I  believe, 
is  a  compounder  of  drugs  in  the  medical  depart- 
ment. He  was  flourishing  a  double-barrel  shot- 
gun in  a  most  alarming  manner,  and  was  ex- 
claiming, perhaps  under  the  influence  of  some 
potent  drug,  *  Which  way  have  they  gone  ? 
Who  will  I  shoot  ?  '  He  has  been  the  butt  of  a 
good  many  jokes  since;  for  it  was  discovered 
when  the  time  came  to  shoot  that  he  had  left  his 
ammunition-pouch  at  his  quarters.  I  have  great 
hopes  of  obtaining  from  a  kind-hearted  official, 
who  is  handy  with  his  pencil  and  his  camera,  a 
sketch  or  two  in  connection  with  this  '  flight 
of  convicts,'  which  will  amuse  the  public  if 

"  Of  course,  you  know  that  the  runaways  were 
all  caught.  Last  Friday  Director  Morrish  came 
down  to  Dartmoor  redolent  with  the  odour  of 
Whitehall,  and  armed  in  all  the  majesty  of  a 
supreme  Judge.  In  accordance  with  his  sen- 
tence five  of  the  men  received  *  two  dozen  '  each 
with  the  *  cat,'  and  the  other  three,  whom  the 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  143 

doctors   would   not   pass     for     tlie    *  cat,'    were 

*  birclied.' 

"  Speaking  of  the  *  cat,'  I  hear  that  the  public 
mind  has  been  very  much  exercised  lately  on  the 
subject  of  the  *  cat ' ;  and,  so  far  as  our  gallant 
soldiers  and  sailors  are  concerned,  I  should, be 
glad  to  see  its  use  dispensed  with.  Allow  me,  at 
the  same  time,  to  assure  you  that  to  abolish  its 
use  in  the  convict  service  would  be  a  blunder. 
I  think  you  will  agree  with  me  that  it  is  the  only 
thing  that  prevents  the  '  old  lags '  from  com- 
mitting many  acts  of  violence.  No  sentence  of 
penal  servitude  frightens  them.  Both  you  and  I 
have  heard  them  say  they  can  *  do  it  on  their 
heads.'  They  are,  however,  all  arrant  cowards, 
and  they  stand  in  mortal  dread  of  the  '  cat.'  I 
cannot  think,  old  friend,  that  there  can  be  any 
cruelty  in  administering  moderate  doses  of  it  to 
some  of  the  brutes  you  and  I  are  acquainted 
with  here,  especially  when  we  remember  that 
they  live  by  systematic  plunder  when  free.  I  feel 
very  certain  that  nothing    but   the  fear   of  the 

*  cat '  prevents  them  from  setting  the  authorities 
at  defiance  when  they  are  in  prison. 

"  I  saw  the  runaways  this  morning  in  their 
yellow  dresses ;  they  are  breaking  stones,  which 

144  Convict  Life. 

I  hope  will  be  used  to  mend  the  road  between 
here  and  the  railway-station  before  I  go  home, 
for  I  am  told  it  is  in  a  horrible  state. 

"  This  morning  the  governor  received  from 
Parliament-street  the  decision  of  the  directors  as 
to  the  punishment  of  the  officers  who  were  in 
charge  of  the  runaways.  They  are  each  fined 
10s.,  and  reduced  to  probation-class  for  three 
months,  so  that  their  pay  will  be  decreased  for  that 
period;  and  our  old  friend will  have  to  cur- 
tail the  number  of  his  visits  to  the '  Spotted  Dog.' 

''  I  must  say  good-bye,  old  fellow,  and  seal  up 
my  despatch ;  for  I  expect  the  postman  every 
minute. — Believe  me  your  obliged  friend. 

I  have  spoken  incidentally  of  prison  punish- 
ments— I  mean  penalties  inflicted  for  a  breach  of 
prison  discipline — and  I  have  said  that  these  fall 
the  most  heavily  on  the  unsophisticated.  I  will 
here  add  that  these  punishments  are  constantly 
inflicted  for  ofiences  which  are  certainly  not 
crimes,  and  that  therefore  some  strict  rules  ought 
to  control  governors,  who  at  present  exercise 
unrestrained  power. 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  145 

A  man  "who  has  been  deprived  of  all  knowledge 
of  what  has  been  going  on  in  the  world  for  half- 
a-dozen  years  picks  up  a  piece  of  an  old  news- 
paper a  few  inches  square  which  has  been  blown 
on  to  the  works  at  Portland  from  the  neighbouring 
barracks.  Not  being  an  old  gaol-bird,  with  his 
eyes  and  ears  everywhere,  he  is  detected  in  the 
act  of  reading  it,  taken  before  the  governor,  and 
sentenced  to  three  days'  bread-and-water  diet  in 
a  punishment-cell,  deprived  of  a  portion  of  his 
clothing  and  all  his  bedding,  reduced  to  an  inferior 
class  for  three  months,  which  modifies  his  diet 
and  deprives  him  of  the  privilege  of  communi- 
cating with,  or  being  visited  by,  his  relatives, 
and  he  is  fined  a  number  of  marks,  the  efi*ect 
of  which  is  to  keep  him  a  fortnight  longer 
in   prison. 

It  is  sometimes  an  infraction  of  prison  rules  to 
do  things  which  are  absolutely  a  necessity,  and 
which  I  have  yet  seen  frequently  punished  by 
deprivation  of  food  and  loss  of  marks.  It.  is, 
of  course,  at  the  option  of  warders  to  report  men 
for  such  ofiences,  or  not  to  report  them.  An 
officer  having  charge  of  a  ward,  and  who  has  in 
any  of  his  cells  a  prisoner  who  is  obnoxious  to 
him,  can  always  make  an  occasion  to  get  rid  of 


146  Convict  Life. 

him,  and  many  are  unscrupulous  enough  to  exer- 
cise their  "  Httle  brief  authority." 

When  a  prisoner  is  reported  and  punished,  he  is 
removed  to  what  are  called  the  "  separate  cells," 
and  when  his  two  or  three  days  of  punishment 
have  expired  the  cell  he  formerly  occupied  has 
found  a  new  tenant,  and  he  probably  goes  to 
another  ward,  and  often  to  quite  a  different  part 
of  the  prison.  It  is  quite  common,  therefore, 
for  unprincipled  officers  to  make  reports  against 
prisoners  whom  they  consider  troublesome.  I 
have  heard  more  than  one  officer  promise  a 
prisoner  that  he  would  "  get  rid  of  him." 

One  Sunday  morning,  I  think  it  was  in  1875, 
but  as  diaries  are  not  allowed  in  convict  prisons 
I  cannot  fix  the  exact  date,  an  event  occurred  in 
what  is  called  E  hall,  at  Portland,  which  should 
have  been  a  stern  rebuke  to  the  class  of  officers 
who  misuse  the  power  with  which  they  are 

A  very  young  man  named  Wills,  of  for- 
mer respectability  and  of  some  education  and 
intelligence,  was  the  occupant  of  a  cell  upon  the 
top  landing  of  the  hall.  He  had  been  suffering 
for  several  weeks  from  diarrhoea,  and  had  been  on 
more  than  one  occasion  subjected  to  punishment 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  147 

for  committing  an  act  which  it  was  quite  impos- 
sible for  him  to  avoid.  .  '  • 

On  this  Sunday  morning  he  repeated  the  so- 
called  offence  under  necessity,  and  his  warder 
notified  him  that  on  Monday  morning  he  should 
report  him  to  the  governor.  Poor  young  Wills 
had  nearly  completed  his  sentence  ;  he  had  but  a 
few  weeks  to  serve ;  his  anxious  and  heart-broken 
mother  was  making  preparation  to  welcome  home 
her  prodigal  son;  he  was  counting  the  days 
which  stood  between  him  and  freedom;  his 
prison  spoon  had  served  him  for  a  "  wooden 
calendar,"  and  he  had  just  scored  off  with  childish 
glee  "  the  daily  notch." 

To  be  taken  before  the  governor  on  Monday 
morning  was  to  be  condemned  to  at  least  another 
week  of  imprisonment.  The  threat  was  too  horrible 
to  the  poor  boy ;  he  was  in  exceedingly  delicate 
health, — consumption  had  wasted  his  frame ;  he 
had  told  me  that  the  highest  of  his  hopes  for  this 
world  was  that  he  might  be  restored  to  freedom, 
in  order  to  die  in  his  mother's  arms.  Another 
week  !  The  thought  was  too  dreadful  for  a  mind 
weakened  by  a  combination  of  disease,  dissi- 
pation, and  remorse.  He  could  be  patient  no 
longer  under  "hope   deferred."     He   made   one 

L  2 

148  Convict  Life. 

spring  over  the  balustrade,  and  his  body  lay  upon 
the  flags  below ;  the  leap  was  as  from  the  top  of 
a  four-story  house,  and  it  was  fatal.  He  was 
carried  to  the  infirmary,  and,  when  the  prison- 
bell  tolled  for  vespers,  he  had  gone  to  his  ever- 
lasting rest. 

I  recollect  this  young  Wills  very  well  some 
seven  years  ago.  He  was  at  that  time  a  clerk  in 
the  office  of  a  Covent  Garden  hotel,  which  was 
once  the  resort  of  the  "  famous"  who  desired  to 
beguile  the  witching  hour,  but  is  now,  I  believe, 
a  favourite  rendezvous  of  a  very  different  class. 
The  boy  was  often  thrown  into  the  society  of 
sporting  men  ;  he  became  "  horsey,"  and  "  made 
a  book."  I  have  just  spoken  the  epilogue  to  his 
drama  of  life. 

I  may  tell  of  another  instance  of  the  exercise 
of  arbitrary  power  on  the  part  of  warders  which 
more  nearly  affected  myself,  and  which  lengthened 
the  time  of  my  incarceration  by  some  six  weeks. 
I  had  a  great  desire  to  improve  the  hours  which  I 
had  to  spend  in  my  cell,  and  when  I  could  obtain 
a  volume  which  contained  selections  from  the 
works  of  the  great  poets  I  was  accustomed  to 
memorize  them. 

To  copy  them  would,  of  course,  greatly  facili- 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  149 

tate  my  object,  but  prison  regulations  forbid  botli 
pencil  and  writing-paper.  As  "love" — akin  in 
this  respect  to  burglars — *'  laughs  at  locksmiths," 
so  prisoners  laugh  at  prohibitions  of  this  sort. 
Brown  wrapping-paper,  which  was  served  out  for 
necessary  purposes,  I  converted  into  tablets,  and 
a  small  piese  of  common  plumber's  lead  which  I 
had  picked  up  upon  the  works  did  duty  for  a 
pencil.  I  scribbled  away  for  many  weeks,  and, 
with  the  aid  of  these  accessories,  drummed  many 
thousands  of  lines  from  Shakspeare  and  Milton, 
and  "Wordsworth  and  Shelley,  and  dear  little  Keats, 
into  my  memory.  A  very  good  fellow  had  charge 
of  the  landing  on  which  my  cell  was  situated ;  he 
had  watched  "my  little  game,"  and  having  satis- 
fied himself  that,  although  a  breach  of  prison- 
rules,  it  was  yet  harmless,  he  had  allowed  me  to 
pursue  "  the  even  tenor  of  my  way." 

One  morning  I  missed  his  friendly  face.  He 
had  gone  "  on  leave"  for  a  week.  His  place  was 
supplied  by  a  plausible,  but  cadaverous-looking 
"  screw,"  who  had  been  constantly  reported  and 
fined  by  the  governor  for  derelictions  of  duty.  It 
was  no  doubt  a  very  important  thing  for  him  to 
distinguish  himself,  if  possible  ;  but  I  must  say 
that  I  was  exceedingly  sorry  to  be  the  stepping- 

150  Convict  Life. 

stone  on  his  way  back  to  official  favour.  I  cannot 
tell  whether  or  no  some  prisoner  gave  him  "  the 
tip,"  but  in  my  absence  at  chapel  he  made  a  raid 
on  my  cell,  and  in  one  of  the  folds  of  my  ham- 
mock discovered  the  implements  which  were 
aiding  my  acquirements  in  literature. 

It  was  a  grand  foray  for  him.  He  established 
his  reputation  for  'cuteness,  and  his  former  little 
peccadilloes  were  condoned.  For  me  the  result 
was  not  so  cheerful.  Governor  Clifton  came  to  the 
conclusion  that  I  was  trying  to  acquire  knowledge 
in  a  dangerous  way,  and  thought  it  wise  to  cool 
my  courage  and  reduce  my  energies  by  a  little 
enforced  abstinence.  I  was  sentenced  to  three 
days  upon  bread-and-water,  to  be  succeeded  by 
fourteen  days  of  penal-class  diet,  the  loss  of  all 
my  class  privileges,  letter-writing,  tea,  &c.,  &c., 
and  to  be  deprived  of  the  use  of  all  books  for 
three  months ;  and,  worst  of  all,  I  was  fined  as 
many  marks  as  would  add  six  weeks  to  the  time 
of  my  imprisonment. 

A  good  warder,  who  really  would  have  reported 
any  prisoner  guilty  of  a  wrong  act,  had  winked  at 
my  harmless  infraction  of  a  hard-and-fast  rule. 
An  incompetent  officer,  who  was  at  the  time  in 
bad  odour,  and  who  had  himself  broken  half  the 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  151 

rules  of  the  service,  was  able  to  win  laurels 
by  making  me  Ms  victim.  I  regret  to  say 
that  this  was  not  the  only  instance  in  my 
own  prison  history  of  the  exercise  of  dangerous 
power  on  the  part  of  warders  for  petty  and 
selfish  motives. 

During  the  term  of  my  imprisonment  I  was 
never  reported  for  the  use  of  bad  language,  or  for 
laziness,  or  for  talking  with  other  prisoners,  or 
for  the  possession  of  tobacco,  or  for  any  of  the 
other  crimes  for  which  prisoners  are  very  pro- 
perly punished ;  but  I  was,  nevertheless,  detained 
in  prison  nearly  seven  months  longer  than  I 
ought  to  have  been,  in  order  to  atone  for  so-called 
offences,  the  morality  of  which  could  not  be  con- 
demned by  the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  himself. 

I  saw  several  instances  of  punishment  at  Dart- 
moor which  I  certainly  thought  most  barbarous. 
Men  employed  in  the  tailors'  or  shoemakers'  shops 
have  no  great  appetite  for  their  food,  whilst  others 
who  are  at  out-door  work  upon  the  moor  are 
ravenous.  The  former  would  out  of  sheer  kind- 
ness frequently  throw  half-a-pound  of  their  bread 
to  the  hungry  ones,  but  if  caught  doing  so  by 
the  oflBcer  on  duty,  they  are  taken  before  the 
governor,  and  sentenced  to  undergo  the  punish- 

152  Convict  Life. 

ment  I  have  described  in  connection  with  the 

A  man  scarcely  able  to  read  or  write  wishes  to 
send  a  letter  to  his  anxious  wife  at  home ;  he  gets 
his  more  educated  neighbour  to  compose  a  letter 
for  him  on  his  slate,  which  he  can  afterwards  tran- 
scribe. They  are  detected,  and  both  sentenced 
to  the  "three  days"  with  the  etceteras.  On  the 
day  for  distributing  the  library  books  an  educated 
prisoner  will  perhaps  get  some  childish  tale,  and 
his  next-door  neighbour,  who  cannot  read  will 
get  Milton's  immortal  epic ;  an  exchange  is  made, 
the  crime  is  discovered,  and  the  bread-and-water 
with  their  concomitants  follow.  These  things 
occur  every  day,  and  I  respectfully  suggest  that 
their  influence  is  to  harden  and  barbarize  the 
prisoner,  and  to  destroy  all  feelings  of  reverence 
for  the  authorities. 

When  the  question  of  prison  punishments 
came  up  in  the  House  of  Commons  in  the 
session  of  1879  Mr.  Cross  succeeded  in  mysti- 
fying his  assailants,  who  of  course  had  no 
practical  experience  of  the  working  of  the 
system.  He  told  them  that  in  the  county  prisons 
he  had  put  it  out  of  the  power  of  governors  to 
inflict  bread-and-w^ater  diet  for  a  longer  period 

Convicts  and  their  Cruardians.  153 

than  twenty-four  hours,  that  is,  twenty-four 
hours  at  a  time,  but  even  under  this  regulation 
a  man  may  be  sentenced  to  four  days'  bread- 
and-water  out  of  seven,  there  being  one  day 
intervening  between  each  punishment.  But 
let  it  be  understood  that  in  convict  prisons  no 
such  restriction  exists.  There,  a  man  may  still 
be  sentenced  to  three  days'  bread-and-water  on 
the  Saturday.  On  the  Tuesday  he  would  come 
off  punishment,  and  get  a  day's  second-class  diet, 
but  could  be  reported  again  on  that  day,  and 
sentenced  to  three  days  more,  which  would 
commence  on  the  Wednesday;  he  would  then 
come  off  punishment  on  Saturday,  and  after 
getting  one  day's  second-class  diet,  could  be 
sentenced  to  anotlier  three  days. 

I  have  known  many  prisoners  to  do  twenty-one 
days  out  of  a  month  upon  bread-and-water,  and 
in  every  case  the  victim  was  a  man  unaccustomed 
to  prison  discipline,  who  had  been  made  a  mark 
by  some  prison-warder  anxious  for  promotion, 
and  who  had  goaded  the  poor  fellow  into  using 
violent  and  threatening  language.  The  old 
thieves,  as  I  have  said,  never  fall  into  these  traps, 
and,  on  account  of  the  combination  existing 
amongst  them,  they  are  let  alone  by  nine  out  of 

154  Convict  Life. 

ten  of  the  officers.  When  one  of  these  attempts 
to  do  his  duty  with  the  professional  thieves  he 
gets  murdered,  or  very  nearly  so,  as  in  the  case 
of  poor  Luscombe ;  and  so  it  will  be  whilst  the 
present  system  of  association  affords  the  oppor- 
tunity for  conspiracy. 

A  few  months  ago  a  poor  mulatto  youth  was 
transferred  to  Dartmoor  prison  from  Portsmouth. 
He  had  there  got  into  trouble,  first  over  a  piece 
of  tobacco  not  bigger  than  a  sixpence.  An  officer 
made  a  "mark"  of  him,  seeing  that  he  was  a 
green  hand,  and  got  him  punished  over  and  over 
again.  At  last  he  carried  his  animosity  too  far. 
The  fellow's  black:  blood  was  roused,  and  he  struck 
his  enemy.  He  was  flogged,  and  sent  in  chains 
to  Dartmoor.  There  the  whole  brood  of  officers, 
or  "screws,"  as  the  "lags"  call  them,  got  down 
upon  him ;  he  was  reported  time  after  time,  and 
during  the  early  part  of  this  year  he  had  existed 
for  fifty  days  out  of  three  months  upon  bread-and-? 
water,  and  in  the  middle  of  March  I  left  him  in 
the  hospital  in  a  very  precarious  state,  as  the 
result  of  his  punishment. 

There  are  men  punished  every  day  at  all  the 
stations  for  the  possession  of  tobacco.  It  is  con- 
sidered by  the  governors  and  directors  (next  to 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  155 

the  striking  of  an  ofi&cer)  as  the  most  flagrant 
breach  of  prison  discipline,  and  yet  every  particle 
of  tobacco  which  finds  its  way  to  a  prisoner  must 
do  so  through  the  hands  of  warders,  or  other 
Government  servants.  It  will  be  seen  how  dan- 
gerous a  power  is  thus  put  into  the  hands  of  a 
band  of  men,  for  the  most  part  illiterate  and  un- 
principled. If  an  officer,  as  is  often  the  case,  and 
of  which  the  infirmary  warder  to  whom  I  have  re- 
ferred, is  an  example,  takes  a  dislike  to  a  well- 
conducted  novice  in  crime,  who  avoids  association 
alike  with  prisoners  and  officers,  he  may  have  no 
real  ground  of  complaint  against  him,  but  he  has 
only  to  drop  a  quarter  of  an  inch  of  tobacco  in 
the  man's  cell,  and  instruct  another  officer  to  find 
it,  and  the  prisoner  is  sure  of  a  most  severe 
punishment.  I  have  hnoivn  this  to  be  practised  V 
upon  a  man  who  never  used  tobacco  in  his  life, 
and  who  certainly  never  willingly  had  any  in  his 

There  is  a  warder  still  in  the  service,  and  on 
duty  at  Dartmoor,  who  being  very  desirous  to  get 
a  man  into  trouble,  one  morning,  when  searching 
him  on  parade,  put  his  hand  into  the  jacket 
pocket,  produced  a  mite  of  tobacco,  exclaiming, 
"I  thought  I  smelt  it."     I,  and   several  other 

156  Convict  Life. 

prisoners,  knowing  the  accused  and  the  accuser, 
were  thoroughly  satisfied  that  the  tobacco  was 
between  the  fingers  before  the  hand  went  into 
the  pocket ;  but  the  prisoner  was  reported,  he 
was  sentenced  to  three  days'  bread-and- water ; 
he  then  got  three  days  more  for  making  a  false 
accusation  against  the  officer,  and  a  further  three 
days  for  impertinence  to  the  governor.  He  was 
then  put  into  close  confinement  for  twenty-one 
days  upon  penal-class  diet,  which  is  about  half- 
way between  bread- and- water  and  full  diet;  he 
was  not  allowed  to  write  to,  or  hear  from,  his 
wife  and  children  for  nine  months,  and  he  was 
sentenced  to  lose  a  number  of  marks  which  he 
had  earned  by  industry  and  good  conduct,  such 
loss  meaning  a  detention  in  prison  for  three  addi- 
tional months.  This  man  had  never  been  in  prison 
before,  and  of  this  offence  I  am  certain  he  was 
not  guilty. 

I  admit  that  a  governor  cannot  take  a 
prisoner's  evidence  against  an  officer's,  but  I 
submit  that  so  dangerous  a  power  should  not  be 
placed  in  the  hands  of  such  a  class  as  fill  the 
office   of  prison-warders. 

Surely  it  is  the  duty  of  governors  and  direc- 
tors  to    make  some   very   stringent   regulations 

Convicts  and  their  Gkiardians.  157 

which  shall  prevent  officers  bringing  tobacco 
into  convict  prisons,  or  else  abstain  from  visiting 
the  possession  of  it  by  prisoners  with  such  severe 
punishment.  A  man  accustomed  to  the  use  of 
tobacco  would  need  have  some  moral  courage 
to  refuse  it  when  offered  him,  and  if,  as  is  often 
the  case,  it  is  put  into  his  possession  against  his 
will,  and  he  is  then  punished,  he  naturally  ceases 
to  have  any  respect  for  the  law  or  its  admini- 
strators. Of  course  I  know  many  prisoners  are 
only  too  ready  to  obtain  tobacco  in  any  way. 
I  knew  twenty  or  thirty  prisoners  at  Portland, 
and  as  many  at  Dartmoor,  who  were,  through 
theii'  relatives,  paying  officers  at  the  rate  of 
thirty  shillings  per  pound  for  tobacco.  These 
were  old  thieves,  who  knew  the  ropes  and  were 
too  cunning  to  be  caught ;  but  the  existence 
of  the  traffic  does  not  speak  very  highly  for  the 
"morale  of  the  officers  employed  or  for  the  sharp- 
ness of  their  superiors. 

Old  gaol-birds  are  not  often  caught  in  this 
tobacco  business,  they  are  too  wary  and  too 
lynx-eyed ;  and,  besides  that,  I  am  sorry  to 
say  they  stand  on  too  friendly  a  footing  with 
the  warders  who  have  charge  of  them,  and 
whose    duty  it   is    to    report    them.      A   large 

158  Convict  Life. 

proportion  of  tlie  warders  seem  to  deal  with 
men  who  have  done  two  or  three  laggings  as 
old  and  familiar  friends,  instead  of  trying,  as 
they  should  do,  to  make  the  prison  a  very  hot 
place  for  them. 

Before  leaving  this  part  of  the  question,  I  will 
just  say  that  while  I  hold  that  convicts  are  not 
made  to  work  half  hard  enough,  and  that  there 
is  very  little  fault  to  be  found  with  the  diet, 
I  think  there  are  many  abuses  connected  with 
the  infliction  of  prison  punishments  which  re- 
quire to  be  remedied.  Some  governors  seem  to 
have  a  mania  for  inflicting  the  bread-and- water 
punishment,  and  they  do  this  for  so-called  ofiences 
which  are  certainly  not  crimes. 

Surely,  men  who  are  appointed  to  the  office  of 
governor,  and  who  are  entrusted  with  so  much 
dangerous  power,  should  be  carefully  selected, 
and  should  know  how  to  temper  not  only  mercy, 
but  reason  with  justice.  Of  course  the  governors 
are  not  all  alike.  The  present  estimable  and 
admirable  governor  of  Millbank  Prison  inflicts 
less  punishments  in  a  year  than  others  do  in  a 
month  with  the  same  number  of  men.  When  he 
is  absent  for  a  week's  leave,  the  number  of  pun- 
ishments is  at  once  increased  by  his  subaltern. 

Convicts  and  their  Ckiardians.  159 

and   certainly   without  any  improvement  in  tlie 
good  order  and  discipline  of  the  prison. 

On  reading  this  description  of  "  prison  punish- 
ment," some  one  will  exclaim,  "Where  are  the 
directors  of  the  convict  department,  whose  duty 
it  is  to  visit  prisons,  and  hear  the  complaints  of 
prisoners?"  Six  years  in  penal  servitude  have 
convinced  me  that  the  ten  thousand  pounds 
appropriated  to  this  department  is  a  fraud  upon 
the  taxpayers.  There  are  ten  convict  prisons. 
I  am  sure  that  one  thoroughly  competent  and 
conscientious  man  might  visit  all  these  prisons, 
inspect  the  food  suppHed  and  all  the  internal 
arrangements,  hear  the  appeals  and  complaints 
of  prisoners,  remedy  many  abuses,  and  save  many 
thousands  a  year  to  the  public. 

The  four  or  five  ornamental  gentlemen  for 
whom  it  has  been  necessary  to  find  a  billet,  and 
who  now  fill  the  office  of  directors,  are  supposed 
to  visit  each  prison  once  a  month ;  in  reality, 
they  manage  so  as  to  make  about  eleven  visits  in 
a  year.  No  visiting  director  has  more  than  two 
country  prisons  to  attend  to.  The  day  before  he 
makes  his  visit  a  telegram  informs  the  governor 
of  his  advent,  the  yards  are  swept  up,  the 
governor  puts  on  his  "  Lincoln  &  Bennett "  or 

160  Convict  Life. 

"  Christy,"  the  chief  warder  dons  his  belt  and 
sword  !  the  old  soldiers  amongst  the  warders  put 
on  all  their  medals,  the  soup  in  one  of  the  coppers 
is  made  a  little  thicker  than  usual,  and  the  great 
man  arrives.  He  walks  round  the  prison  with 
the  governor. 

As  when  the  governor  goes  his  rounds,  so 
with  the  director,  the  principal  warders  give 
the  ofiice  to  the  warders,  and  the  warders  tele- 
graph to  the  assistant- warders  that  the  director 
approaches ;  he  is  assured  that  everything  is 
right.  He  sees  what  it  is  intended  he  should 
see,  and  nothing  more.  Much  in  the  same 
way  that  an  audience  at  a  theatre  witnesses  a 
drama;  he  sees  and  knows  nothing  about  the 
wires,  and  the  ropes,  and  the  traps,  and  the 
wings ;  he  sees  only  what  is  made  visible  by 
the  footlights. 

The  delusion  over,  he  proceeds  to  the  judg- 
ment-room to  listen  to  the  complaints  of 
prisoners,  and  to  hear  charges  against  ofl&cers 
and  prisoners  which  are  of  a  serious  nature,  and 
which  have  been  reserved  for  his  judgment.  In 
the  six  years  of  my  experience  I  knew  of  many 
acts  committed  by  governors  which  could 
scarcely    be   regarded   as  just,   but    never   one 

Convicts  and  their  Guardians.  161 

single  instance  of  the  injustice  being  rectified  by 
the  director.  Every  prisoner  who  goes  before 
the  director  with  a  complaint  is,  to  use  a  prison 
phrase,  "  choked  ofi*."  The  director  is  merely 
ornamental.  He  makes  a  formal  visit  of  two 
or  three  hours'  duration  eleven  times  a  year,  in 
order  to  father  everything  that  the  governor  has 

In  fair  round  belly,  with  good  capon  lined, 
With  eyes  severe,  and  beard  of  formal  cut, 
Full  of  wise  saws  and  modem  instances, 
He  plays  his  part 

He  nods,  he  eats  eleven  luncheons  at  the  ex- 
pense of  the  governor  or  the  country,^!  know 
not  which, — praises  the  claret,  nods  again,  and  has 
then  earned  his  thousand  pounds.  This  will  con- 
tinue until  men  are  selected  for  different  reasons 
and  in  a  different  way. 

The  gentleman  who  is  the  visiting  director  of 
two  of  the  most  important  convict  prisons, — 
Portland  and  Dartmoor, — has  held  office  either  as 
governor  or  director  for  many  years.  He  was 
entrusted  with  the  important  duties  appertaining 
to  these  offices,  shortly  after  a  madman  named 
Oxford  had  made  an  attack  upon  the  Queen. 
I   believe   that    he   effected    the   arrest    of    the 

162  Convict  Life. 

culprit,  and  so  entitled  himself  to  some  reward ; 
but  I  submit  that  this  service  should  not  have 
been  considered  a  sufficient  qualification  for  the 
important  duties  which  he  has  been  called  upon 
to  fulfil  during  the  last  thirty  years  or  more. 

Convict  Life.  163 

CHAPTER  yil. 


I  THINK  it  is  not  generally  known,  and  the 
matter  seems  to  have  altogether  escaped  the 
notice  of  the  Commission  which  has  recently 
reported,  that  about  one-third  of  the  cells  at 
Portland,  more  than  one-half  of  the  cells  at 
Dartmoor,  and  corresponding  numbers  at  other 
country  stations,  are  what  the  prisoners  not 
unreasonably  call  "  dark  cells " ;  they  have  no 
direct  light ;  all  that  they  have  is  borrowed  from 
the  corridor  or  hall  into  which  they  open. 

In  the  evening,  even  in  the  summer-time,  it  is 
quite  impossible  to  read  in  them,  and  it  is  only 
with  the  greatest  difficulty  that  a  man  with  good 
eyes  can  see  to  read  at  noon;  the  only  time, 
therefore,  which  a  prisoner  occupying  these  cells 
has  for  reading  is  in  the  winter,  and  by  gaslight. 

This,  however,  is  not  the  greatest  evil  con- 
nected with  them.     A  very  large  proportion  of 

M  2 

164  Convict  Life. 

the  prisoners  belong  to  that  class  who  "  love 
darkness  rather  than  light,  because  their  deeds 
are  evil,"  and  these  dark  cells  are  a  cover  for  all 
sorts  of  immorality  and  indecency,  about  which  I 
cannot  be  more  communicative.  Light  and  air 
are  moral  as  well  as  physical  necessaries. 

Then  the  cells  of  which  I  speak  are  exceedingly 
small,  and  only  divided  from  each  other  by  a  thin 
sheet  of  corrugated  iron ;  a  man  with  good  ears 
can  listen  to  his  neighbour's  yarns  even  without 
the  aid  of  a  "  chat-hole."  It  is  the  custom,  how- 
ever, for  prisoners  to  bore  a  small  hole  through 
the  partition,  near  to  the  ground,  through  which 
the  chat  takes  place.  The  one  prisoner  lies  down 
on  the  ground  and  talks  and  listens,  with  his 
mouth  or  ear  to  the  chat-hole ;  his  neighbour  sits 
at  the  window,  which  opens  on  to  the  landing 
along  which  the  officer  in  charge  walks.  If  he 
approaches,  a  knock  from  the  watcher  causes  the 
chat  to  be  suspended  until  he  has  passed,  when  it 
commences  again. 

The  separate  system,  while  these  cells  are  tole- 
rated, is  altogether  a  farce.  If  two  old  thieves 
are  next  door  to  each  other,  the  filthy  conver- 
sation which  takes  place  may  be  imagined.  All 
sorts  of  villanies  and  conspiracies  are  concocted 

Beformatorij  and  Sanatory.  165 

in  these  dark  cells,  and  if  the  man  on  either  side 
of  the  "  chatters "  happens  to  be  a  novice  in 
crime,  he  has  the  opportunity  of  taking  lessons 
in  rascality.  If  he  be  a  man  of  any  decency  his 
attention  is  diverted  from  his  book,  if  he  happen 
to  have  a  light  and  could  otherwise  read  it. 

These  thieves,  too,  are  the  most  persistent 
talkers  that  can  possibly  be  imagined ;  they  are 
constitutionally  law-breakers,  and  the  fact  that 
talking  is  prohibited  is  with  them  a  sufficient 
reason  for  talking  without  ceasing,  and  such  talk ! 

I  had  the  misfortune  to  have  one  of  the  vaga- 
bonds next  me  at  Portland.  He  was  not  only  a 
moral  but  a  physical  nuisance;  the  effluvium  which 
was  exhaled  from  his  body,  and  which  was,  I 
presume,  the  result  of  neglected  disease,  found 
its  way  through  the  chinks  of  my  cell  and  dis- 
gusted me ;  while  the  emanations  of  his  mouth 
were  filthy  beyond  description,  and  would  have 
created  a  moral  pestilence  anywhere. 

I  recollect  a  little  of  the  family  history  which 
this  fellow  repeated  to  me,  and  which  is  very 
characteristic  of  the  estimation  in  which  virtue 
and  purity  are  regarded  by  all  his  class.  He  said 
that  he  had  heard  through  "  a  pal  of  his  who  had 
been  recently  '  lagged,'  that  his  old  woman  was 

166  Convict  Life. 

living  with  another  bloke."  His  great  anxiety 
seemed  to  be  to  find  out  if  she  would  be  willing  to 
come  back  to  him  on  his  discharge.     He  said  she 

was  a  valuable  old  " "  to  him,  for  she  was 

cook  at  a  restaurant  in  the  City,  and  she  always 
brought  home  enough  "junk"  and  "toke"  to 
fill  his  carcase,  and  he  had  all  his  thievings  for 
liquor.  He  also  regaled  me,  very  much  against 
my  will,  with  descriptions  of  his  marauding  expe- 
ditions. I  certainly  had  every  opportunity  to 
learn  the  trade  of  a  sneak-thief. 

At  another  time  I  had  a  neighbour  who  had 
heard  fi:'om  somebody  that  I  had  some  respect- 
able connections.  The  scoundrel  seriously  pro- 
posed that,  after  we  were  both  released,  I  should 
"  put  him  up"  to  getting  anything  I  saw  in 
places  to  which  I  had  the  entree.  He  was  willing 
to  take  all  the  risk,  and  I  was  to  go  halves  in  the 

Now,  only  think,  there  are  hundreds  of  youths 
and  young  men  convicted  every  year  for  the  first 
time;  many  men  of  all  ages,  who  have  some 
human  feehngs,  which  even  ignorance  and  drink 
and  sin  have  not  eliminated ;  men  who  have  a 
common  nature  which  could  be  impressed,  minds 
which    could    be    instructed,    sympathies  which 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  167 

could  be  drawn  back  to  virtue,  and  souls  wMcli 
miglit  be  purified  and  restored. 

The  Government  takes  each  of  these  unfortu- 
nates and  puts  him  into  a  dark  cell,  where  his 
only  possible  occupation  is  to  talk  to  a  profes- 
sional villain,  and  be  by  him  initiated  into  the 
mysteries  and  advantages  of  a  dishonest  life.  A 
poor  wretched  agricultural  labourer  is  made 
the  near  neighbour,  night  and  day,  of  a 
scoundrel  who  qualifies  him  and  renders  him 
capable  of  committing  a  burglary  at  the  resi- 
dence of  his  old  employer  within  a  week  after 
his  discharge  from  prison. 

He  goes  to  the  convict  prison  for  the  perpetra- 
tion of  perhaps  one  petty  ofience,  committed 
under  the  influence  of  drink  or  poverty,  and, 
thanks  to  a  paternal  Government,  he  leaves  prison 
thoroughly  qualified  to  execute  every  hideous 
crime  in  the  calendar.  At  first  many  of  these 
young  criminals  are  so  ignorant  that,  to  save  their 
fives,  they  could  not  sjpell  house  or  watch,  and  in 
the  spelling  they  are  no  better  off  when  they  leave 
than  when  they  enter ;  but  the  law  has  given  them 
some  very  able  tutors  who  have  taught  them  how 
to  break  into  the  one  and  to  snatch  the  other. 

Drink    leads    nine-tenths    of   prisoners    into 

108  Convict  Life. 

crime  :  no  sane  man  doubts  that ;  but  then  the 
law  takes  these  amateurs,  and  throws  them 
into  the  arms  of  professionals,  in  these  dark 
and  easily-communicating  cells  ;  and  unless  they 
have  some  really  good  principles  which  whisky 
has  not  destroyed,  and  a  large  share  of  moral 
courage,  they  are  rapidly  imbued  with  principles 
which  laugh  at  all  moral  restraints. 

I  repeat,  because  I  think  the  evil  cannot  be 
over-estimated,  there  are  hundreds  and  hundreds 
of  men  now  in  the  convict  prisons  who  occupy 
every  moment  which  they  spend  in  their  cell, 
which  is  not  devoted  to  sleep,  in  vicious  and 
filthy  conversations  with  their  next  neighbour, 
and  in  watching  and  perfecting  conspiracies 
against  life  and  property.  Old  and  hardened 
criminals  teach  each  other  new  dodges,  and 
become  more  proficient  in  crime ;  and  novices 
are  by  these  old  and  hardened  criminals  trans- 
formed into  adepts. 

I  have  already  said  something  about  the 
Medical  Department  of  the  Convict  Service.  I 
am  quite  within  the  truth  when  I  say  that  the 
doctors  are  the  hardest-worked  and  the  worst- 
paid  of  prison  oflScials.  They  have  great  respon- 
sibihties,  and  if  they  happen  to  make  a  mistake 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  169 

they  are  amenable  to  all  sorts  of  penalties.  I 
think  they  deserve  sympathy  and  consideration 
at  the  hands  of  the  public,  and  with  few  excep- 
tions they  are  entitled  to  the  full  confidence  of 
the  community.  There  may  be  one  here  and 
there  who  would  be  better  in  health,  and  of 
more  service  to  the  State,  if  he  preferred  milk  to 
brandy,  but  such  cases  are  exceptional  ones,  and 
would  not  exist  if  there  were  a  head  to  the 
system  who  was  responsible  to  Parliament  and 
who  would  personally  investigate  what  goes  on. 

The  unsophisticated  would  scarcely  believe 
how  arduous  and  diflRcult  are  the  duties  of  a 
medical  officer  in  a  convict  prison.  He  has  to 
measure  his  shrewdness  and  judgment  against 
the  deceit  and  the  cunning  of  the  most  villan- 
ously  artful  and  deceitful  body  of  men  in  the 

The  first  object  of  every  professional  thief  and 
habitual  criminal  after  his  conviction  is  to  do 
something  to  himself,  or  to  invent  some  inge- 
nious lie,  by  which  he  can  "fetch  the  farm," 
which  is  thieves'  language  for  obtaining  admis- 
sion to  the  infirmary.  A  prisoner  there  gets  a 
good  bed  and  the  close  association  of  forty  other 
thieves  in  a  large  warm  dormitory.     He  gets  nice 

170  Convict  Life. 

food,  and  he  gets  what  every  thief  in  England 
adores  above  everything  else  except  drink:  I 
mean  entire  laziness.  He  can  lie  on  his  back, 
eat,  talk  filth  to  his  neighbour,  and  plot  future 
villany.  The  infirmary  is  the  convicted  thief  s 
paradise,  and  he  leaves  no  stone  unturned  to  get 
into  it. 

When  one  old  "lag"  is  successful  in  any 
invention  which  gains  him  admission,  he  commu- 
nicates with  his  pal,  and  unless  a  doctor  is  vpry 
wide  awake  he  may  be  humbugged  into  the 
idea  that  some  particular  malady  has  been  engen- 
dered in  the  prison  by  bad  water  or  food,  or  gas, 
whereas  the  infection  has  only  emanated  from  dis- 
eased and  villanous  imaginations.  The  prisoners 
are  continually  comparing  notes  with  each  other 
as  to  the  best  means  of  "  besting  the  croker." 

When  I  was  discharged  from  the  infirmary  and 
returned  to  the  prison  it  was  at  dinner-time.  I 
was  located  in  a  vacant  cell,  and  could  hear  my 
neighbour  eating  his  dinner.  The  officer  locked 
me  in  and  went  away,  but  had  not  got  many  yards 
along  the  corridor  when  I  heard  a  knock,  suc- 
ceeded by  a  voice. 

"  Did  you  come  from  the  '  farm,'  mate?  " 


Beformatory  and  Sanatory.  171 

"Did  you  get  full  diet?" 


"Any  extras?" 


"Any  beer?" 


"Why  not?" 

"  Because  I  preferred  milk." 

"  Look  here,  old  chum.  I'll  give  you  a  '  wing 
of  snout'  (that  is,  a  taste  of  tobacco)  if  you'll 
tell  me  how  you  worked  it.  What  did  you  com- 
plain of  when  the  croker  took  you  in  ?" 


"  Who  was  it  ?     Askham  ?  " 

"No.     Bernard." 

"  And  he  took  you  in  for  nothing  ?" 

"  He  examined  me,  and  put  me  to  bed." 

This  was  not  satisfactory  to  my  "  co-mate  and 
brother  in  exile."  I  don't  think  he  believed  me, 
and  I  did  not  get  the  "  wing  of  snout."  The 
next  day  when  I  went  out  upon  the  works,  I  was 
beset  by  similar  inquiries,  and  got  plenty  of 
curses  for  not  being  more  communicative. 

All  sorts  of  dodges  are  resorted  to.  Bidwell 
is  not  the  only  one  who  feigns  paralysis ;  many 
poison  their  flesh  by  inserting  in  it  copper-wire 

1 72  Convict  Life. 

or  worsted;  others  swallow  ground  glass,  eat 
poisonous  insects,  swallow  soap  and  soda,  or 
slightly  maim  and  disable  themselves.  Anything 
by  which  they  can  secure  a  skulk,  and  escape 
from  what  Mr.  Carlyle  has  wisely  called  the 
"sacredness  of  work."  The  most  earnest  prayer 
of  the  professional  thief  might  be  thus  translated  : 
"  From  the  sacredness  of  work,  and  from  all  other 
sacredness,  good  Lord  deliver  me." 

When  the  thief  once  gets  his  foot  into  the  infir- 
mary, his  two  anxieties  are  how  to  stop  there, 
and  how  to  obtain  "  extras,"  especially  beer.  He 
compares  notes  with  some  other  rascal,  and  tries 
a  fresh  hoax  every  day  upon  the  doctor.  If  the 
doctor  were  to  believe  what  he  is  told  by  profes- 
sional thieves,  one-half  of  their  whole  number 
would  be  constantly  in  the  infirmary ;  and  if  he 
believed  the  stories  of  those  whom  he  does  admit, 
he  would  never  get  rid  of  them  until  the  day  of 
their  discharge,  for,  according  to  their  own 
account,  they  get  worse  every  day.  The  com- 
monest answer  by  an  habitual  criminal  to  the 
doctor's  morning  inquiry,  is,  "I  don't  feel  near 
as  well  as  I  did  yesterday,  doctor.  I  feel  so 
weak  and  so  faint.  I  think  I  should  get  strong  if 
you'd  give  me  some  porter  " !  I     And  half  of  them 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  173 

are  all  the  time  thoroughly  well,  thoroughly- 
strong,  and  lie  on  their  lazy  backs  hour  after  hour 
inventing  fresh  hoaxes. 

At  Portland  and  Dartmoor,  and  I  believe  at  all 
other  provincial  stations,  the  casual  sick  are  seen 
by  the  doctor  in  the  dinner-hour.  This  is  an  evil 
in  many  ways,  and  the  discontinuance  of  the  prac- 
tice has  been  recommended  in  the  Report  of  the 
recent  Commission,  To  give  prisoners  medicine 
with  their  dinner  is  ridiculous,  and  in  many  cases 
useless  ;  and  it  is  given  literally  with  the  dinner. 
I  recollect  distinctly  that  almost  every  day  when 
the  cells  were  being  unlocked  for  the  men  whose 
names  were  down  for  the  doctor,  I  had  about 
half-finished  my  dinner,  and  if  I  were  really 
unwell  and  required  a  dose  of  medicine,  my  only 
opportunity  of  taking  it  was  either  to  go  without 
my  dinner  altogether,  or  take  rhubarb  or  castor- 
oil  as  a  sort  of  sandwich  between  beef  and  bread. 

But  let  it  be  understood  that  this  arrangement 
is  not  under  the  control  of  the  doctor,  it  is  made 
by  the  governor  for  the  convenience  of  himself 
and  his  subalterns.  There  is  no  good  reason  why 
the  medicine  should  not  be  dispensed  in  the  early 
morning  as  soon  as  prisoners  rise,  and  half-an- 
hour  before  breakfast.     I  know  that  on  the  last 

174  Convict  Life. 

day  of  July  an  order  was  issued  directing  a  change 
in  this  respect,  but  I  also  know,  that  a  week  after 
that  date  no  change  had  been  made  at  Dartmoor, 
so  I  presume  the  authorities  there  are  creating 

I  would  also  suggest  that  if  the  doctor,  accom- 
panied by  his  dispenser,  went  to  the  cells  of  those 
men  who  had  applied  to  see  him  in  the  same  way 
that  he  does  at  Pentonville  Prison,  all  opportunity 
for  trafficking  and  assignations  by  prisoners  at 
the  doctor's  hour  would  be  avoided,  and  the 
doctor  would  be  saved  quite  a  number  of  bogus 
applications,  for,  as  I  have  already  intimated,  a 
large  number  of  prisoners  only  apply  to  see  the 
doctor  in  order  to  keep  an  appointment  with  a 
"  chum." 

I  may  mention  here  that  the  disgusting  custom 
of  stripping  a  lot  of  prisoners  naked  in  the  pre- 
sence and  sight  of  each  other  for  the  purpose  of 
searching  is  still  continued  at  Dartmoor.  Clause 
25  of  the  Commissioners'  Report  says  that  it  has 
been  discontinued  since  the  Commission  com- 
menced its  sittings.  This  is  not  so.  At  the  begin- 
ning of  the  month  of  August,  1879, 1  am  informed 
that  a  whole  party  of  twenty  or  thirty  men  were 
taken  into   the  hall  of  the   separate   cells,  and 

Bfiformatory  and  Sanatory.  175 

stripped  in  the  presence  of  eacli  other.  It  was 
done  almost  every  day  while  I  was  at  that  station, 
and  I  have  good  authority  for  saying  that  the 
disgusting  and  immoral  practice  still  continues. 
It  is  certainly  not  calculated  to  raise  the  standard 
of  decency  amongst  the  criminal  class. 

I  have  taken  it  for  granted  in  all  that  I  have  said 
that  the  State  has  duties  beyond  the  mere  punish- 
ment of  crime.  Millions  are  spent  annually  for 
that  purpose.  Millions  are  stolen  annually  by  the 
criminal  from  the  honest  and  industrious  classes, 
and  spent  in  those  great  receiving-houses  of 
stolen  money — the  gin-palaces  and  the  brothels. 
Now,  is  it  possible  to  do  anything  towards  the 
prevention  of  crime  ?  If  so,  surely  it  is  a  duty 
incumbent  on  the  State.  I  think  it  will  be  pos- 
sible when  a  proper  classification  of  prisoners 
has  been  made.  The  money  now  expended  upon 
the  educational  department  is  altogether  thrown 
away,  absolutely  squandered  and  wasted.  I  have 
watched  the  workings  and  effects  of  the  school 
organization  very  carefully,  and  I  am  very  sure 
that  not  one  man  in  one  thousand  derives  the 
slightest  benefit  from  it. 

I  am  not  alone  in  this  opinion.  A  Catholic 
priest  who  has,  I   believe,  been  in  the   service 

176  Convict  Life. 

since  Catholic  priests  were  first  employed,  told  me 
only  a  few  days  ago  that  he  had  the  very  worst 
opinion  of  the  influences  of  the  present  convict 
system  upon  the  morals  of  the  prisoners  ;  that  he 
had  seen  no  good  effects  whatever  from  the  school 
teaching,  and  that  without  great  reform  he  was 
quite  sure  he  never  would. 

Now,  there  are  thousands  of  prisoners  unable 
either  to  read  or  write  their  own  names,  and 
whose  ignorance  has  been  one  of  the  great 
obstacles  to  their  success  in  life ;  there  are  hun- 
dreds of  agricultural  labourers,  who,  although 
they  are  in  prison,  are  not  vicious  by  nature  or 
inclination ;  and  there  are  numbers  of  young  boys 
who  have  landed  in  prison  in  absolute  ignorance, 
and  whose  presence  there  is  due  to  the  fact  that 
they  have  been  allowed  to  grow  up  without  any 
mental  or  moral  training.  These  classes  have 
now  the  opportunity  of  attending  school  for 
one  hour  in  a  iveek  in  the  winter  time,  and 
for  about  twenty  minutes  in  a  week  in  summer 
time ! 

During  these  minutes  the  boy,  the  countryman, 
the  novice  in  crime,  sit  shoulder  to  shoulder 
with  old  and  abandoned  thieves.  These  old 
thieves  have  not  the  most  remote  intention  to 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  177 

learn,  even  if  they  had  the  opportunity,  but  they 
attend  school  as  an  excuse  to  get  out  of  their 
cells,  and  because  they  want  a  change  of  scene 
and  company. 

When  prisoners  are  entitled  to  write  letters  to 
their  friends  they  write  them  in  the  school-hour, 
so  that  I  had  frequent  opportunities  of  seeing 
what  went  on.  Disgusting  conversations  were 
indulged  in,  the  prisoners  keeping  their  eyes 
upon  their  books  to  avoid  detection,  but  under 
pretence  of  mumbling  their  lessons  aloud  they 
were  engaged  in  ribald  chat  with  their  neighbours, 
and  many  were  making  disgusting  and  licentious 
drawings  on  their  slates,  and  showing  them  to 
their  pals.  Classification  would  remedy  this  evil, 
for  it  is  only  caused  by  the  habitual-criminal 
element.  The  other  classes  would  profit  by  in- 
struction if  they  had  any  opportunity,  at  present 
they  have  no  chance  given  them. 

I  will  describe  the  educational  arrangements  at 
Dartmoor.  They  reflect  precisely  the  state  of 
things  at  Portland,  and  I  presume  at  the  other 
public- works  prisons.  There  are  five  distinct 
prisons  or  halls.  Once  a  week,  in  each  hall,  in 
summer  for  about  twenty  minutes  and  in  winter 
for  about  one  hour,  the  schoolmasters  instruct,  or 

178  Convict  Life. 

pretend  to  instruct,  such  prisoners  as  can  neither 
read  nor  write ;  no  others  are  permitted  to  attend 
school.  An  utter  ignorance  of  the  history  of 
England,  or  the  geography  of  the  globe,  or  of 
the  simplest  rules  of  arithmetic,  are  not  con- 
sidered sufficient  reasons  to  warrant  the  inter- 
ference of  the  schoolmaster. 

The  very  little  time  allotted  for  educational 
purposes  is  half  wasted  even  in  this  "  once  a 
week"  system.  When  the  bell  rings  for  school 
and  the  classes  have  assembled  the  roll  is  called, 
then  the  schoolmasters  (who  do  everything  very 
leisurely)  distribute  the  copybooks  or  the  spelling- 
books  ;  then  they  take  another  slow  walk  round 
with  the  pens,  and  by  the  time  a  dozen  words  of 
one  syllable  have  been  spelt,  and  often  before  a 
single  line  in  the  copybook  has  been  filled,  the 
bell  rings  again.  The  schoolmaster's  work  (?)  is 
done,  he  walks — not  leisurely  round  now,  he 
wants  to  get  home,  or  to  the  bilHard-room  in 
the  village,  and  he  is  all  in  a  bustle — "Now, 
then,  hurry  up  with  those  books  and  pens !  look 
sharp  I  "  Then,  away  rush  the  "  dominies," 
and  the  prisoners  return  to  their  cells  about 
as  wise  as  they  left  them.  The  only  thing 
they  have   learned,   is  probably   a  fresh  lesson 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  179 

in  vice  from  their  next  neighbour,  or  the  latest 
prison  scandal  and  gossip. 

I  have  certaiiily  met  with  two  or  three  men 
who,  in  spite  of  difficulties,  have  after  three  or 
four  years  acquired  sufficient  knowledge  to  scribble 
half-a-dozen  ungrammatical  lines  to  their  friends; 
but  these  cases  have  been  the  result  of  prodigious 
effort,  and  are  not  the  consequence  of  any  interest 
which  is  taken  in  their  work  by  the  school- 
masters, who  are  paid  very  fair  salaries,  and 
whose  great  object  seems  to  be  to  do  as  Httle 
as  possible  in  return. 

JSTow,  why  does  not  the  Government  utilize  the 
services  of  this  staff  of  expensive,  and  at  present 
useless  men  ?  Taking  the  average  of  winter  and 
summer,  they  are  occupied  for  about  forty-five 
minutes  on  five  days  of  the  week.  The  only 
other  thing  that  the  whole  staff  do  between  them 
is  to  leave  a  book  once  a  week  at  each  cell-door, 
and  this  is  often  too  much  for  them ;  they  fre- 
quently miss  it.  They  take  advantage  of  every 
possible  excuse  to  avoid  even  their  slight  duties. 

Last  year  the  chaplain  wished  them  to  make  a 
catalogue  of  the  books  in  the  library.  I  could 
have  catalogued  all  the  books  they  have  there 
in    six    hours.        It   took    these    four    or    five 

N  2 

180  Convict  Life. 

indolent  men  three  months  to  do  it,  and  during 
that  time  it  was  impossible  to  get  a  readable 
book;  and  let  it  be  borne  in  mind  that  such 
things  as  this  only  bear  heavily  on  the  novices  in 
crime,  like  all  the  other  regulations  in  the  convict 
service.  The  old  thieves  don't  care  for  books; 
you  may  as  well  give  strawberries  to  pigs. 

I  complained  to  the  chaplain  several  times 
while  this  cataloguing  was  going  on  and  told 
him  that  a  tenth  of  the  library  of  the  British 
Museum  could  have  been  catalogued  in  less 
time.  He  said,  jokingly,  that  they  were  a  lazy 
lot,  and  he  feared  he  should  have  to  get  some 
of  them  "  sacked,"  but  they  "  hurried  not." 

I  have  shown  in  a  former  chapter  that  a  great 
portion  of  the  labour  done  by  convicts  is  wasted 
labour,  and  I  am  sure  that  none  of  it  is  remune- 
rative. Now,  would  it  not  be  wise  to  devote 
three  afternoons  in  the  week  to  the  instruction  of 
these  ignorant  men  ? 

The  Saturday,  which  is  now  a  half-holiday, 
might  be  one  of  them,  and,  by  a  very  little 
good  management,  the  labour  performed  on  the 
other  two  afternoons  might  be  accomplished  in 
the  morning  in  addition  to  what  is  now  done. 
If    Mr.    Cross    will    send    for    Captain    Harris 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  181 

from  Dartmoor,  or  Mr.  Clifton  from  Portland, 
and  put  the  question  straight  to  them,  I  am 
quite  sure  that  they  will  admit  that  it  is 
possible  to  make  arrangements  by  which  nine 
hours  in  the  week  could  be  devoted  to  the 
education  of  the  ignorant.  The  three  hours 
on  the  Saturday  at  present  so  much  misused  by 
prisoners  in  their  cells  provides  a  third  of  the 
time,  and  by  a  very  little  extra  energy  the 
labour  now  accomplished  on  Tuesdays  and 
Thursdays  might  he  crowded  into  the  mornings 
of  those  days. 

Then  these  schoolmasters  would  have  a  little 
occupation.  At  present  they  are  getting  fat  from 
inaction,  and  their  brains  are  getting  mouldy 
from  lack  of  exercise.  They  loll  about  with 
their  fishing-rods,  and  ruminate  upon  the  pension 
which  they  see  looming  in  the  future,  but  which 
they  can  scarcely  delude  themselves  that  they 
have  honestly  earned.  To  put  it  mildly,  they 
are  at  present  making  no  adequate  return  for 
the  public  money  they  receive. 

I  approach  the  religious  question  with  some 
diffidence,  because,  while  I  am  very  anxious  to 
expose  the  hypocrisy  and  deceit  which  are  practised 
by  the  criminal  class,  I  should  indeed  be  sorry  if 

182  Convict  Life. 

it  were  supposed  that  I  wished  to  cast  any  slur 
upon  holy  things.  The  programme  of  the  reli- 
gious department  in  a  convict  prison  is  made  up 
of  two  services  on  the  Sunday,  with  a  sermon  at 
each,  and  a  monthly  celebration  of  the  Sacrament 
of  the  Lord's  Supper.  There  is  an  early  service 
every  morning  during  the  week  for  a  few  minutes. 
On  Tuesday  and  Thursday  a  short  address  is 
given ;  on  Wednesday  and  Friday  the  Litany  is 
read ;  and  on  Monday  and  Saturday  selections 
from  the  Morning  Service  of  the  Church.  The 
services  in  the  Eoman  Catholic  chapels,  are,  I  am 
told,  of  a  similar  character. 

About  the  whole  of  these  services  there  is  a 
dead  and  hollow  formality  which  always  spoke  to 
me  of  hideous  and  transparent  hypocrisy.  The 
prisoners  are  all  glad  to  take  part  in  them 
because  they  add  a  little  variety  to  their  life, 
and  because  they  increase  their  opportunities 
for  chat  and  association.  Not  one  in  a  hundred 
goes  into  the  chapel  with  any  reverence  for  the 
God  with  whom  he  is  supposed  to  hold  com- 
munion. Not  one  in  a  hundred  who  join  in  the 
Confession  of  sin  cares  whether  God  hears  them 
or  not,  but  they  speak  loudly,  and  do  care  very 
jmuch  that  the  chaplain  should  hear  them,   and 

Reformatonj  and  Sanatory.  183 

observe  them,  for  upon  his  recommendation  they 
may  be  able  to  obtain  a  more  pleasant  billet  in 
the  prison.  At  every  opportunity  during  the 
service  at  least  three-fourths  of  the  prisoners 
utilize  the  responses  and  the  prayers  which  are 
repeated  after  the  clergyman  for  the  purpose 
of  conversation  with  one  of  their  neigh- 

I  have  seen  a  man  pulling  a  long  face  and 
who,  with  his  hands  clasped  and  his  eyes  on  the 
chaplain,  instead  of  repeating  the  Pater  Noster, 
was  detailing  to  his  chum  the  latest  news  from 
some  thieves'  quarter  in  London,  which  he  had 
received  through  a  man  recently  "  lagged." 
It  will  be  said  that  this  sort  of  thing  caanot  be 
helped,  but  I  think  it  is  largely  due  to  a  want  of 
earnestness  on  the  part  of  the  chaplains,  and  it 
is  certainly  due  in  a  great  measure  to  the  too- 
frequent  services,  and  their  stereotyped  character. 
Neither  these  men  when  in  freedom,  nor  any 
other  men  in  England,  dream  of  going  to  church 
every  day  ;  why  should  convicts  do  so  ? 

I  sincerely  believe  that  there  are  hundreds  of 
men  in  convict  prisons  who  are  open  to  good 
influences.  I  think  that  an  earnest  practical 
appeal  to  them  from  the  pulpit,  showing  them 

184  Convict  Life. 

how  utterly  futile  it  is  to  expect  real  happiness  in 
this  world  except  from  a  life  of  virtue,  or  urging 
upon  them  the  great  truth  that  the  most  truly 
happy  people  in  the  world  are  those  who  subsist 
on  the  fruits  of  their  labour,  would  really  produce 
some  good  results.  Now  I  am  sorry  to  say  that 
prison  chaplains  attach  far  more  importance  to 
doctrinal  Christianity  than  to  practical  godliness. 
They  are  too  constantly  urging  prisoners  to  believe 
that  God  sent  them  into  the  world  under  a 
curse;  that  they  were  created  wicked  by  the 
constitution  of  their  flesh,  and  wicked  by  eternal 

These  abstruse  disquisitions  have  no  good 
effect  upon  the  criminal  class,  nor  upon  un- 
thinking men  who  do  not  yet  belong  to  that  class, 
and  perhaps  still  less  upon  the  few  who  do  think. 
When  thieves  are  told  that  they  were  born  unable 
to  keep  the  commandments,  they  rather  naturally 
inquire  why  they  are  punished  for  breaking  them, 
and  so  with  other  mysteries.  When  preached  to 
about  the  atonement,  they  are  assured  that  the 
sins  of  all  who  believe  have  been  atoned  for. 
They  do  not  receive  the  doctrine  cum  grano,  but 
literally ;  so  they  swear  they  believe,  swallow 
the  sacrament,  think  they  are  all  right,  and  go  on 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  185 

singing  in  chapel  and  cursing  outside  until  the 
next  sacrament-day.  Now,  would  it  not  be  better 
to  discourse  to  these  men  on  the  great  law  of 
cause  and  effect ;  to  try  to  show  that  honesty  is 
indeed  the  best  policy ;  and  that  peace  and  plenty 
and  comfort  can  only  follow  purity  and  industry 
and  sobriety  ? 

Then  such  advice  tendered  to  the  mass  might 
advantageously  be  followed  up  by  personal 
appeals  to  such  of  the  prisoners  as  are  but 
new  travellers  on  the  "road  to  ruin."  I  do 
not  speak  of  the  old  and  incorrigible  thieves, 
but  outside  of  this  class  I  am  sure  there  are 
many  to  whom  a  little  advice  —  not  given  as 
from  a  gaoler  to  a  prisoner,  but  as  from  a  large- 
hearted  Christian  man  to  an  erring  brother  — 
would  be  thankfully  welcomed. 

I  am  sorry  to  say  that  during  my  long  ex- 
perience in  two  convict  prisons  I  never  knew  a 
chaplain  voluntarily  to  enter  a  prisoner's  cell 
and  have  a  little  rational  talk  with  him  about 
the  good  policy  of  honesty  and  truth.  I  am 
sure  that  not  one  of  them  ever  came  in  this 
way  to  me.  I  never  heard  of  one  going  to  any 
other  prisoner.  If  I  made  an  application  to 
see    a   chaplain    about    a   book    or   a    letter,   he 

186  -      Convict  Life. 

generally  gave  me  the  impression  that  he  made 
the  note  in  his  book  without  having  the  slightest 
interest  in  me  or  my  reformation,  and  simply 
because  it  was  a  part  of  the  routine  which 
ensured  him  his  salary.  If  a  chaplain  does  call 
upon  a  prisoner  it  is  to  urge  his  attendance  upon 
the  Sacrament  of  the  Lord's  Supper. 

I  really  think  it  would  be  wise  on  the  part  of 
the  Government  to  prohibit  this  service  alto- 
gether in  convict  prisons.  Nothing  in  my  prison- 
life  disgusted  me  so  much  as  the  infamous  use 
which  is  made  of  this  ordinance  of  the  Church. 
A  large  proportion  of  the  vilest  and  filthiest 
scoundrels  whom  I  met  with,  both  at  Portland 
and  Dartmoor,  were  not  only  members  of  the 
church  choir,  and  the  loudest  in  their  responses 
at  church,  but  "  regular  communicants "  of  the 
Lord's  Supper. 

At  Portland,  and  I  presume  at  other  stations, 
the  chaplains  have  found  it  necessary  to  keep  a 
tight  hold  upon  the  goblets  while  administering 
the  wine.  To  trust  them  in  the  hands  of  the 
communicants  would  be  to  greatly  increase  the 
amount  of  the  prison-wine  account. 

If  the  numbers  who  attend  this  service  were 
a  good  test  of  the  amount  of  real  good  achieved 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  187 

by  the  chaplains,  they  would  surely  deserve  great 
credit.  There  are  a  legion  of  applicants  for  the 
bread  and  wine  on  the  first  Sunday  of  each 
month.  The  prisoners,  rightly  or  wrongly,  have 
got  the  idea  that  if  they  want  an  easy  billet  in 
the  prison  work — a  job  in  the  cook-house  or 
bake-house,  or  a  nurseship  in  the  infirmary  — 
their  game  is  to  pull  a  long  face  at  chapel,  and 
take  the  Sacrament  regularly.  The  most  unmiti- 
gated villains  unhung  would  reverently  turn  to 
the  east,  and  loudly  mouth  out  the  damnatory 
clauses  of  the  Athanasian  Creed,  and  I  am  bound 
to  say  that  they  made  it  pay.  Reports,  no  doubt 
went  up  to  the  Home  Secretary  of  the  great 
amount  of  good  accomplished ;  I  must  say  that 
I  fear  it  was  nine-tenths  humbug.  The  general 
result  of  the  present  system  is  to  foster  and 
perpetuate  hypocrisy.  The  present  leader  of  the 
choir  in  the  Protestant  chapel  at  Dartmoor,  and 
one  of  the  most  devout  prisoners  (at  church) 
is   doing  his  third  "  lagging." 

It  is  well  known  to  the  officers  of  the  prison 
that  the  display  of  religion  on  his  part,  and  that 
of  many  others,  is  a  mere  sham ;  that  if  they 
get  the  tip  from  their  neighbours  that  the  chap- 
lain is  in  their  neighbourhood,   their  Bible  will 

188  Convict  Life. 

be  open  on  the  table,  or  he  will  very  likely  find 
them  on  their  knees,  but  as  soon  as  he  is  gone 
they  will  be  indulging  in  obscene  conversation 
through  their  "  chat-holes."  I  am  sorry  to  have 
to  insist  that  this  religious  trickery  and  deceit 
is  made  to  pay. 

One  of  the  ways  of  fetching  an  "  easy  lagging  " 
is  to  be  a  canter  and  a  hypocrite.  The  prisoners 
know  this,  and  so  there  is  in  every  convict 
prison  a  whole  regiment  enlisted  under  the 
"  banner  of  the  Cross."  Many  of  them  have 
been  praying  and  singing  and  "  communing  " 
through  two  or  three  *'  laggings."  When  their 
present  sentence  expires  they  will  take  a  "  spell." 
They  will  stop  praying  and  take  to  thieving, 
until  the  "bobby"  catches  them  at,  their  old 
tricks,  when  they  will  return  to  penal  servitude 
to  pray  and  sing  and  *'  commune  "  again,  and  so 
fetch  another  "  easy  lagging." 

I  hope  that  in  making  these  strictures  I  shall 
not  be  misunderstood.  God  forbid  that  I  should 
throw  a  stone  at  any  religious  professions  which 
are  sincere,  and  the  genuineness  of  which  are 
borne  out  in  the  life  of  the  professor.  I  have  a 
real  respect  for  the  adherents  of  any  creed,  no 
matter    how    absurd    I    may    think    its   tenets. 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  189 

if  belief  in  them  ensures  purity  of  life.  No 
creed  can  be  wholly  bad  if  it  produces  good 
men.  I  know — few  better  than  I — that  nothing 
but  misery  and  wretchedness  attend  the  steps 
of  those  who  stray  from  the  path  of  true  godh- 
ness.  I  know  that  it  is  only  by  a  conscious- 
ness that  we  are  ever  in  the  sight  of  a  great 
Eternal  Father,  who  makes  virtue  its  own 
reward,  that  we  can  hope  to  avoid  impurity  and 
sin.  I  know  also  that  it  is  only  by  sincere  and 
hearty  repentance  of  misdeeds,  and  a  fixed  de- 
termination to  live  henceforth  in  honesty,  and 
sobriety,  and  truth,  and  in  the  fear  of  the  good 
God,  that  any  peace  can  come  into  a  man's 

But  while  feeling  all  this,  and  having,  I  hope, 
realized,  the  truth  of  it  in  my  own  experience, 
I  cannot  help  expressing  the  contempt  and 
abhorrence  which  I  feel  for  the  cheats  who 
attempt  to  palm  themselves  off  upon  the  credu- 
lous as  penitents  and  pietists,  while  their  inner 
life  is  so  filthy  and  abominable  as  to  make  one 
doubt  their  humanity.  That  thousands  of  con- 
victs do  this  for  the  sake  of  the  pettiest  of  petty 
advantages  I  am  quite  certain,  and  the  only  way 
to  put  an  end  to  it  is  to  prevent  favour  being 

190  Convict  Life. 

shown  to  prisoners  on  account  of  any  religious 
profession  which  they  may  make.  No  truly  re- 
pentant men  will  object  to  this,  for  all  such 
would  be  ashamed  to  accept  immunity  from 
labour  for  simply  doing  their  duty,  and  "  walking 
humbly  with  God." 

The  prison  Hbraries  are  organized  by  the 
chaplains,  and  are  really  under  their  control, 
but  of  necessity  the  distribution  is  left  to  the 
schoolmasters.  There  are  good  books  in  the 
libraries,  but  it  is  fifty  to  one  against  the  man 
who  can  understand  and  appreciate  a  good  book 
getting  it. 

The  grossest  carelessness  and  want  of  dis- 
crimination characterise  the  action  of  the  school- 
masters in  this  matter  as  in  all  others.  The 
don't-carishness  which  they  exhibit  is  unpardon- 
able. A  boor  who  cannot  read  at  all  will  be  very 
likely  to  get  Macaulay's  "  Essays,"  or  Hallam's 
"Middle  Ages,"  while  an  educated  man,  or  a 
thinking  man  who  desires  to  learn  something, 
will  be  condemned  to  the  one  hundred  and 
forty-ninth  perusal  of  *'  Robinson  Crusoe.",  The 
boor  will  probably  lay  Mr.  Hallam  upon  his  shelf 
and  not  trouble  to  put  him  out  for  exchange 
again   for  three  months,  and   during  that  time 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  191 

fifty  poor  fellows  are  starving  for  mental  food 
which  might  fit  them  for  a  better  life.  I  believe 
that  there  is  at  Portland  a  copy  of  Motley's 
"  Dutch  Eepublic  "  and  of  some  of  Mr.  Prescott's 
works,  but  although  I  made  incessant  applica* 
tions  for  three  years,  I  never  obtained  them, 
owing  to  the  sheer  inanity  of  the  schoolmasters. 

A  tolerably  good  joke  was  current  at  Portland 
in  my  time.  A  "  rural "  prisoner,  who,  I  suppose, 
did  not  come  from  "very  far  north,"  was  anxious 
to  obtain  an  amusing  book.  By  the  advice  of  his 
neighbour  he  made  an  appHcation  to  see  the 
chaplain.  That  functionary  tapped  at  his  door 
about  a  week  afterwards  to  inquire  what  he 
wanted.  He  quite  innocently  requested  that  he 
might  be  supplied  with  "  The  Life  and  Adven- 
tures of  the  Three  Lazy  Schoolmasters."  The 
chaplain  doubtless  chuckled  to  himself,  and  retailed 
the  joke  in  the  evening  over  his  "  beeswing,"  but 
the  book  was  not  forthcoming. 

Two  books  I  did  get  at  Portland,  which  to  me 
were  invaluable.  They  contained  gems  of  poetry 
and  prose  of  which  one  never  tires,  and  which, 
after  I  had  committed  them  to  memory,  were  to 
me  a  "  continual  feast."  They  were  the  "  Half- 
Hours  with  the  Best  Authors,"  which  was  pub- 

192  Convict  Life. 

lished  bj  good  old  Charles  Knight,  and  "  The 
Cyclopaedia  of  English  Literature,"  published  a 
few  years  ago  by  Messrs.  Chambers.  The  only 
fault  with  the  latter  was,  that  amongst  a  host  of 
selections  which  were  pure  gold,  an  unfair  quan- 
tity of  dross  was  mingled,  evidently  for  no  other 
reason  than  because  it  was  Scotch  dross.  I  gave 
all  that  "a  wide  berth"  of  course,  and  I  then 
found  sufficient  to  command  my  gratitude  to  the 

Out  of  the  sixteen  hundred  prisoners  at  Port- 
land there  are  perhaps  two  hundred  who  can 
understand  and  appreciate  such  books  as  those  I 
have  named.  The  Rev.  Mr.  Hill,  for  many  years, 
and  until  recently,  the  senior  chaplain  at  that 
station,  told  me  in  1876  that  he  had  more  than  a 
hundred  applications  at  one  time  for  each  of  the 
books  named,  and  an  equal  number  for  Boswell's 
"Johnson"  and  Scott's  -'Xapoleon."  Many  of 
these  were  from  illiterate  prisoners  to  whom  these 
books  would  be  of  no  use,  but  who  had  an  equal 
chance  of  obtaining  them.  Such  books  as  the 
two  first  and  the  last  I  have  named  would  cer- 
tainly tend  to  improve  the  minds  and  raise  the 
moral  tone  of  the  men  who  are  anxious  to  read 
them,  and  would  perhaps  be  of  as  much  service 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  193 

in  fitting  them  to  do  their  duty  and  become  useful 
members  of  society  in  this  world,  as  are  the 
"Dairyman's  Daughter"  and  Baxter's  "Saint's 
Rest"  to  prepare  them  for  another.  The  last- 
named  books  are  in  abundance,  of  the  former 
there  is  but  a  single  copy  of  each  in  the  library. 

I  do  not  want  to  intrude  on  the  domain  of  the 
ecclesiastical  powers,  but  I  venture  to  submit 
that  orthodoxy  and  mere  outward  conformity 
of  the  criminal  class  are  not  of  so  much  im- 
portance to  the  State,  as  is  their  regeneration 
on  this  material  and  sublunary  sphere.  Let  the 
law  while  it  has  them  under  control  try  to  trans- 
form them  into  good,  honest,  intelligent  citizens. 
After  their  release,  if  the  parsons  can  induce 
them  to  adopt  any  of  their  peculiar  isms,  and 
those  isms  will  keep  them  straight  for  the  future, 
why,  the  community  will  owe  a  debt  of  gratitude 
both  to  the  parsons  and  the  isms. 

There  have  been  any  number  of  books  written 
which  if  read  and  studied  would  tend  to  make 
men  good,  and  honest,  and  industrious,  and  pure 
in  this  world.  Surely  these  are  the  character- 
istics of  all  the  writings  of  one  whom  I  con- 
sider the  greatest  of  living  authors,  and  who  is 
perhaps  the  greatest  of  living  men  ;  yet  not  one 


194  Convict  Life. 

of  the  productions  of  Thomas  Carlyle  can  be 
found  in  any  prison  library.  Harriet  Martineau 
and  Mr.  Froude  are  excluded,  and  many  other 
authors  who  have  written  with  the  object  of 
improving  and  refining  the  race, — and  why  ? 
For  no  other  reason  than  that  the  authors  named 
are  too  honest  to  say  they  believe  what  they 
do  not  believe,  and  are  unable  to  digest  all 
the  antique  orthodoxy  of  the  "  Fathers  of  the 

At  Dartmoor  I  was  very  fortunate  in  getting 
from  the  chaplain  Mr.  Fronde's  "  Short  Essays 
on  Great  Subjects,"  but  it  was  only  by  a  fluke. 
The  chaplain  had  not  had  time  to  read  them. 
No  other  prisoner  got  them,  for  they  were 
condemned  on  account  of  some  religious  senti- 
ment contained  in  them,  not  coinciding  with  his 
reverence's  prejudices.  I  presume  some  censor- 
ship to  be  necessary,  but  would  it  not  be  better 
if  it  were  placed  in  the  hands  of  some  liberal- 
minded  man  in  London  who  could  supervise  all 
the  books  issued  for  the  use  of  the  prisoners  ? 
At  present,  books  issued  freely  in  one  prison 
are  forbidden  in  another. 

I  take  it  for  granted  that  no  long  time  will 
elapse  before  there  is  a  classification  of  prisoners. 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  195 

When  that  arrangement  is  made,  and  when  all 
those  men  who  are  not  wholly  given  over  to 
the  devil  are  ?;et  apart  from  the  habitual 
criminals,  it  would  be  a  very  wise  provision 
to  appoint  for  each  prison  two  or  three  large- 
hearted  men  of  high  moral  character,  whose 
duty  it  would  be  to  visit  every  prisoner  in 
rotation,  and  converse  with  him  during  the 
hours  not  devoted  to  labour;  or  if  the  men 
worked  in  their  cells,  as  I  think  they  should  v/ 
do,  the  visits  might  be  made  while  they  are  at 
work.  This  would  obviate  all  the  objections 
which  are  raised  to  the  solitary  system. 
It  is  not  necessary  to  a  man's  sanity  that  he 
should  be  alivays  talking;  and  such  visits,  and 
the  expectation  of  such  visits,  would  altogether 
prevent  men  from  becoming  melancholy  and 
brooding  over  the  idea  that  they  are  forgotten 
and  uncared  for. 

At  Portland  there  is  one  such  man  who  is  v/^ 
called  the  "  Scripture-Reader,"  but  as  there  are 
sixteen  hundred  men  at  that  station,  and  as  he  is 
limited  to  one  hour  in  the  evening  for  making 
his  visits,  he  is  not  able  to  see  an}'-  prisoner 
very  often.  Mr.  Gibbs,  of  whom  I  speak,  is 
certainly  the  most  useful  man  I  saw  in  the  ser- 

0  2 

196  Convict  Life. 

vice  during  my  imprisonment.  He  had  himself 
belonged  to  the  industrial  class;  he  is  a  con- 
scientious total  abstainer ;  and  he  was  able  and 
willing,  as  far  as  opportunity  was  allowed  him, 
to  give  in  a  brotherly  way  sound  advice  to  the 

I  know  of  two  or  three  instances  in  which 
he  was  successful  in  inducing  young  and  com- 
paratively innocent  men  to  avoid  the  company 
and  language  of  the  old  thieves,  and  I  know 
of  one  or  two  others  whom  drink  had  taken 
to  prison,  who,  in  consequence  of  his  earnest 
advocacy,  left  prison  with  a  determination  to 
make  their  first  call  at  the  offices  of  a  tem- 
perance society  and  sign  the  pledge. 

Half-a-dozen  such  men  in  each  prison,  with 
unlimited  opportunities  of  seeing  and  talking 
with  young  prisoners,  might  effect  an  amount 
of  good  which  cannot  be  over-estimated. 

There  are  more  than  two  hundred  officers  at 
Portland  whose  duty  it  is  to  guard  and  control 
the  men ;  but,  the  chaplains  having  no  time  for 
this  sort  of  exhortation,  there  is  only  this  one 
man  to  point  out  to  them  that  there  is  a  more 
excellent  way  to  pass  through  life  than  in 
spending  it  in  debauchery  and   vice.       I   think 

Reformatory  and  Sanatory.  197 

the  governor  of  Portland  would  soon  discover 
that  he  could  dispense  with  the  services  of  a 
score  or  two  of  "screws"  if  he  had  half-a- 
dozen  such  men  as  Mr.  Gibbs  on  his  staflf,  and 
each  one  had  ample  opportunities  to  exercise 
his  influence  upon  those  prisoners  who  are  im- 
pressible. At  Dartmoor  there  is  not  even  one 
of  these  readers  and  exhorters. 

I  commend  this  subject  to  the  very  serious 
attention  of  the  Government.  Then  the  young 
novices  in  crime  instead  of  being  contaminated 
by  old  thieves,  and  by  them  rendered  unfit  for 
ever  to  mix  with  honest  or  decent  people,  would 
be  properly  advised  and  guided,  and  would  per- 
chance leave  prison  with  honest  hearts,  and 
become  eventually  useful  members  of  the  com- 

There  is  another  plan  which,  if  adopted  bj 
the  chaplains,  would  I  am  sure  lead  to  good 
results.  Let  the  men  be  assembled  in  the 
chapel  on  one  evening  in  the  week  during  the 
winter  months,  and  addressed  on  some  subject 
not  altogether  religious.  There  are  doubtless 
many  able  and  eloquent  men  who  would,  for  the 
love  of  God  and  human  progress,  give  their 
services,  and  address  their  fallen  fellow-creatures 

198  Convict  Life. 

on  temperance  and  industry,  and  literature  and 
science.  If  the  chaplains  object  to  the  impor- 
tation of  outsiders  let  them  do  it  themselves.  I 
repeat  there  are  men  open  to  good  influences, 
and  if  by  some  such  means  as  I  have  indicated 
they  could  be  rescued  from  the  criminal  life  into 
which  the  other  branches  of  the  Convict  Depart- 
ment seem  to  condemn  them,  it  would  be  work 
worthy  even  the  high  vocation  of  a  Christian 

Convict  Life.  199 



IT  may  savour  of  presumption  for  me  to  review 
the  recent  Report  of  the  Commission,  but 
at  least  I  shall  bring  to  it  a  practical  knowledge 
of  the  subject  upon  which  they  have  reported. 
The  suggestions  and  recommendations  which 
have  emanated  from  Lord  Kimberley  and  his 
associates  are  exceedingly  valuable,  and  although 
they  have  left  untouched  the  important  question 
of  education,  and  although  they  have  not  solved 
the  two  problems  of  how  to  diminish  crime, 
and  what  to  do  with  incorrigible  and  habitual 
criminals,  they  have  yet  presented  Mr.  Cross 
with  a  great  deal  of  material  towards  his  coming 
measure  of  prison  reform. 

My  object  in  this  chapter  will  be  to  offer  some 
suggestions  in  regard  to  what  has  been  recom- 
mended by  the  Commission,  and  also  to  try  to 
supply  some  further  material  which,  if  considered. 

200  Convict  Life. 

may  be  found  worth  the  attention  of  the  Secretary 
of  State. 

At  section  29  the  Commissioners  speak  of  the 
nine  months  of  separate  confinement  at  Millbank 
and  Pentonville,  and  intimate  that,  with  the 
exception  of  attendance  at  chapel  and  exercise, 
the  visits  of  the  governor,  medical  officer,  chap- 
lain, or  warder  to  the  prisoner  in  his  cell,  alone 
break  the  silence  and  solitude  of  his  life.  This 
ought  to  be  true :  if  responsible  and  reliable 
officers  were  employed,  it  would  be  true ;  and  if 
it  were  true,  and  the  system  could  be  extended 
through  the  whole  sentence  of  men  convicted  for 
the  first  time,  they  would,  unless  they  really 
belong  to  the  constitutionally  vicious  and  incor- 
rigible class,  never  be  re-convicted,  and  would 
emerge  into  the  world  redeemed  and  reclaimed. 

This  is  the  opinion  of  every  intelligent  and 
educated  convict  with  whom  I  have  come  in 
contact.  I  have  not  the  most  remote  doubt  of 
its  truth;  and  if  Mr.  Cross  can,  before  quitting 
the  fatigues  of  office,  persuade  the  Legislature  to 
give  solitary  confinement  a  fair  trial,  I  feel  very 
sure  that  it  will  prevent  many  thousands  from 
enlisting  in  the  dreadful  army  of  professional 
criminals.     I  am  convinced  that  five  years  is  too 

Report  of  the  Commission.  201 

long  a  sentence  for  any  man  convicted  for  the 
first  time,  unless  it  be  for  some  very  heinous 
offence.  Three  or  four  years  of  solitary  con- 
finement would  be  found  quite  sufficient  to 
prevent  a  novice  from  engaging  again  in  crime ; 
but  even  if  the  five  years'  rule  be  maintained, 
there  is  no  good  reason  why  the  solitary  system 
should  not  be  tried.  Some  over-anxious  and 
tender-hearted  philanthropists  have  expressed 
fears  that  so  long  a  period  of  silence  and  soli- 
tude would  produce  lunacy. 

This  could  only  be  in  the  case  of  men  with 
very  weak  minds,  and  such  could  be  specially 
provided  for  by  medical  certificate.  I  know,  and 
it  is  the  experience  of  all  whose  opinion  is  worth 
consideration,  that  it  was  only  when  I  was  cut  off 
from  all  society,  and  compelled  to  hold  com- 
munion with  myself,  that  I  fully  turned  my 
thoughts  inwards,  and  reflected  upon  the  wicked- 
ness which  had  landed  me  in  a  convict's  cell ; 
and  then  it  was,  I  formed  resolves  which,  with 
God's  help,  I  hope  will  protect  me  in  the  future. 
It  is  arofued  that  solitude  renders  men  dull  and 
morose.  Well,  men  cannot  be  overcome  with 
remorse  for  an  ill- spent  life,  and  feel  at  the  same 
time  particularly  jolly. 

202  Convict  Life. 

If  a  man  is  to  be  reformed  lie  must  lament 
over  his  past  misdoings ;  and  when  is  he  most 
likely  to  lament  ?  When  he  is  in  the  society 
of  ribald  and  obscene  jokers,  who  laugh  with 
fiendish  glee  at  whatever  is  pure  or  decent,  or  in 
the  sohtude  of  his  cell,  with  only  God  and  an 
accusing  conscience  ?  If  men  are  to  be  humbled 
into  that  state  of  contrition  which  must  neces- 
sarily precede  reformation,  there  must  be  sorrow, 
and  no  doubt  sorrow  produces  dejection. 

Would  it  not  be  wise  to  encourage  a  little 
dejection,  if  by  its  operation  thieves  can  be  trans- 
formed into  honest  men  ?  But  all  the  evils  of 
the  separate  system  are  easily  obviated.  Work, 
constant  and  earnest  work,  and  books  when  the 
work  is  done,  with  the  occasional  visits  of  such 
men  as  Mr.  Gibbs  at  Portland — men  who  will 
walk  into  a  prisoner's  ceU  and  grasp  his  hand, 
and  then  sit  down  and  show  him  how  easy  a 
thing  it  is  for  a  man,  with  God's  help,  to  be 
happy  in  this  world  if  he  is  only  honest  and  sober 
and  true,  and  that  even  for  men  who  have  faUen 
ever  so  low  there  is  hope,  if  they  wiU  but  fear- 
lessly defy  the  devil  for  the  future.  Such  truths 
spoken  earnestly  by  large-hearted  men  from  time 
to  time   would   to    aU  but  the  most   degraded 


Report  of  the  Commission.  203 

prisoners  give  food  for  reflection,  preserve  them 
from  the  extremes  of  melancholy,  and  inspire 
them  with  bright  hopes  for  the  future. 

Then  there  is  work  to  be  done  which,  if 
earnestly  pursued,  would  preserve  men  from  over- 
brooding.  As  I  have  shown,  the  work  now  per- 
formed in  prisons  is  not  earnest  work.  No  man 
will  be  made  an  industrious  man,  or  be  quahfied  to 
obtain  an  honest  livelihood,  by  the  work  he  does 
in  prison :  it  would  not  buy  him  prison  rations. 
If  a  man  worked  in  his  cell  either  at  a  loom  or 
at  shoemaking  or  tailoring,  and  was  given  to 
understand  that  he  would  be  rewarded  with  the 
proceeds  of  his  labour  after  a  sufficiency  had  been 
earned  for  his  maintenance,  he  would  have  an 
incitement  to  work ;  and  if  he  really  worked 
there  would  be  no  fear  of  such  extreme  dejection 
as  could  lead  to  lunacy.  No  doubt  idleness  takes 
many  men  to  prison;  the  professional  thief  luon^t 
work ;  but  amongst  the  other  classes  idleness  is 
fostered  in  prison ;  every  prisoner  does  as  little 
as  he  possibly  can  because  no  reward  is  offered 
for  his  industry. 

Let  me  here  quote  from  a  work  published  in 
the  first  half  of  this  century,  entitled  "  Self- 
Pormation."     The  author,  by  the  enunciation  of 

204  Convict  Life. 

self-evident  truths,  not  only  shows  the  import- 
ance and  value  of  work  in  the  abstract,  but  also 
proves  that  earnest  work  is  an  infallible  remedy 
for  all  the  evils  which  are  supposed  to  be  charge- 
able to  solitary  confinement. 

He  says,  "  I  have  heard  and  read  repeatedly  that 
idleness  is  a  very  great  evil ;  but  the  censure  does 
not  appear  to  me  to  come  up  to  the  real  truth. 
I  begin  to  think  that  it  is  not  only  a  very 
great  evil,  but  the  greatest  evil,  and  not  only 
the  greatest  one,  but,  in  fact,  the  only  one — the 
only  mental  one,  I  mean ;  for,  of  course,  as  to 
morality  a  man  may  be  very  active,  and  very 
viciously  active  too.  But  the  one  great  sensible 
and  conceivable  evil  is  that  of  idleness.  No  man 
is  wretched  in  his  energy.  There  can  be  no  pain 
in  a  fit ;  a  soldier  at  the  full  height  of  his  spirit, 
and  in  the  heat  of  contest,  is  unconscious  even 
of  a  wound ;  the  orator  in  the  full  flow  of  rhetoric 
is  altogether  exempt  from  the  pitiful ness  of  gout 
and  rheumatism.  To  he  occupied,  in  its  first 
meaning,  is  to  be  possessed  as  by  a  tenant;  and  see 
the  significance  of  first  meanings.  When  the 
occupation  is  once  complete,  when  the  tendency 
is  full,  there  can  he  no  entry  for  any  evil 
spirit;    but   idleness   is    emptiness;    where  it    is. 

Report  of  the  Commission.  206 

there  the  doors  are  thrown  open  and  the  devils 
troop  in.''^ 

Leaving  out  of  the  question  the  old  and  habi- 
tual criminals,  I  think  the  Government  have  here 
in  a  nutshell  the  only  effective  means  for  reform- 
ing criminals  and  turning  them  into  honest  men  : 
Solitary  confinement ;  no  association  with  the 
re-convicted  men ;  the  occasional  visit  and  cowisel 
of  earnest,  practical  advisers  ;  and  steady,  earnest, 
unremitting  labour,  which  shall  enable  the  convict 
to  earn  sufficient  money  to  emigrate  and  begin  a 
new  life  in  a  new  land. 

In  sections  34  to  40,  inclusive,  the  Com- 
missioners describe  the  present  system  of  clas- 
sification— good-conduct  marks,  remission,  and 
gratuities,  without  suggesting  any  reform.  The 
existing  scale  of  marks  is  a  very  peculiar  inven- 
tion. Under  its  provisions  a  prisoner  is  not 
credited  with  any  marks  during  the  first  nine 
months  of  his  sentence,  no  matter  how  good  his 
conduct  or  how  great  his  industry;  but  if  he 
breaks  any  prison  rule  during  the  probationary 
period  he  is  fined  a  certain  number  of  marks, 
which  are  deducted  from  those  he  is  expected  to 
earn  in  the  future. 

Another  anomaly  is  that  after  the  close  of  the 


206  Convict  Life. 

probationary  period  every  prisoner  is  credited 
with  six  marks  per  day,  no  matter  how  bad  his 
conduct  or  how  great  his  indolence,  but  in  earn- 
ing only  six  marks  per  day  he  gets  no  remission. 
The  six  marks'  credit,  therefore,  is  a  mere  de- 
lusion ;  it  means  nothing,  and  endless  trouble 
might  be  saved  by  giving  good-conduct  men 
one  and  two  marks  per  day,  and  bad-conduct 
men  none.  The  whole  mark  system  is  never- 
theless a  strong  argument  in  favour  of  the  classi- 
fication of  prisoners. 

With  the  present  class  of  men  who  are  em- 
ployed as  warders,  eight  marks  per  day  does 
not  at  all  mean  good  conduct  and  steady  hard 
labour ;  indeed,  the  amount  of  work  done  is  not 
taken  into  account  by  one  officer  in  twenty.  It 
means  that  the  prisoner  has  given  the  officer 
in  charge  of  him  no  trouble;  that  he  has  not 
bothered  him  at  all;  that  he  has  not  even 
troubled  him  for  anything  which  would  have 
helped  him  to  do  more  work ;  and  that  he  has 
kept  his  eyes  open  to  give  his  supervisor  the 
"tip  "  in  case  of  the  approach  of  a  superior  officer. 
These  are,  in  practice,  the  things  which  obtain  a 
man  his  full  number  of  marks,  and  it  may  be 
readily  conceived  that  the  majority  of  those  who 

Beport  of  the  Commission.  207 

obtain  in  this  way  their  full  remission  and  are 
the  soonest  let  loose  to  prey  again  upon  the 
public  are  the  old  thieves  that  are  up  to  all 
prison  dodges,  who  are  thoroughly  posted  up 
as  to  when  it  is  safe  to  break  a  rule  and  when 
it  is  not,  and  who  "  know  their  way  about " 

Now,  I  would  suggest  that  re-convicted  men 
should  not  only  be  kept  in  distinct  prisons,  but 
should  be  deprived  of  the  privilege  of  earning 
remission.  There  certainly  ought  not  to  be  any 
great  hurry  about  liberating  men  who  have  given 
ample  proof  that  they  intend  to  live  always  by 
plunder.  There  are  two  very  effective  ways  of 
keeping  these  habitual  thieves  in  order — bread- 
and- water  diet  and  the  whip  ;  they  hate  both  as 
much  as  the  devil  hates  holy  water. 

At  clause  38  the  Commissioners  speak  of  the 
amount  awarded  to  prisoners  on  their  release. 

The  necessity  which  exists  for  a  classification 
of  prisoners  is  at  no  time  more  apparent  than 
on  the  occasion  of  a  convict's  discharge.  Three 
pounds  is  not  much  to  give  a  man  with  which  to 
begin  the  world.  However  sincere  may  be  the 
convict's  aspirations  for  a  life  of  industry  and 
honour,  he  is  in  most  cases  destitute  of  friends 

208  Convict  Life. 

who  can  aid  him  to  obtain  employment.  If  he  is 
to  be  honest,  a  little  help  from  the  Government 
is  necessary  to  provide  him  with  the  implements 
of  industry;  and  yet,  so  long  as  all  classes  of 
prisoDers  are  subject  to  the  same  regulations, 
I  could  not  conscientiously  advise  the  Govern- 
ment to  increase  the  amount  of  gratuity. 

All  that  I  heard  from  the  men  who  were 
awaiting  their  discharge  from  Millbank  con- 
temporaneously with  myself,  and  the  resolutions 
I  heard  expressed  by  hundreds  of  men  upon 
public  works,  as  to  what  would  be  their  first 
action  upon  their  release,  forces  me  to  the 
conclusion  that  in  the  case  of  two-thirds  of  all 
the  convicts,  the  amount  paid  to  them,  whether 
it  were  three  pounds  or  thirty,  would  go  to 
swell  the  receipts  of  some  old  acquaintance 
who  sells  intoxicating  liquors. 

The  same  argument  applies  to  the  clothes 
in  which  prisoners  are  discharged.  And  this 
brings  me  to  clause  41.  The  Commissioners 
state  that  improvements  have  been  made  in 
quality  and  fashion.  I  shall  speak  my  own 
experience.  The  "  togs "  in  which  I  was 
"rigged  out"  were  an  advertisement  to  the 
police,    and   to   the   public.      There   was,    to  all 

Report  of  the  Commission.  209 

intents   and    purposes,  an    announcement   upon 
my  back  tliat  I  was  a  "  ticket-of-leave  man." 

Such  an  arrangement  may  seem  suited  for 
all  old  gaol-birds  and  irreclaimables.  If  three- 
fourths  of  the  convicts  who  are  discharged 
were  attired  in  a  respectable  and  serviceable 
suit  of  clothes,  at  a  cost  of  three  or  four 
pounds,  the  result  would  be,  that  after  an  entire 
outfit  had  been  obtained  from  Petticoat-lane 
for  about  five-and-sixpence,  the  clothes  supplied 
by  the  Government  would  be  consigned  to  the 
care  of  their  uncle  for  twelve  calendar  months, 
and  at  the  expiration  of  the  year  would  be 
knocked  down  to  the  highest  bidder  by  some 

In  my  own  case,  and  in  that  of  others 
similarly  situated,  I  think  there  is  cause  for 
complaint.  As  I  have  admitted,  the  act  which 
consigned  me  to  prison  admits  of  no  apology 
and  deserves  no  excuse ;  still,  I  was  not  a  gaol- 
bird, or  an  habitual  criminal,  and  shall  be  much 
more  likely  to  offer  myself  as  food  to  the 
sharks  that  haunt  the  Portland  breakwater  than 
to  seek  re-admission  into  the  ranks  of  the 
convicts  who  built  it. 

On  my  advent  to  Pentonville,  the  authorities 


210  Convict  Life. 

took  possession  of  a  suit  of  clothes  adapted 
to  my  position  in  life,  and  whicli  had  shortly 
before  cost  me  twelve  or  fourteen  pounds.  On 
my  release  I  was  turned  loose  in  a  suit,  the 
shoddiness  of  which  is  itself  a  lesson  in  rascality, 
and  in  which  I  should  have  been  quite  ashamed 
to  seek  employment  in  my  own  profession.  The 
contract  price  of  the  material  may  have  been 
ten  shillings,  and  it  was  botched  together  as 
only  prison  tailors  can  botch.  Its  value  was 
nil ;  a  good  sharp  shower  would  reduce  it  to 
a  rag  :  no,  not  even  to  a  rag,  for  it  was  shoddy. 
It  is  simply  a  fair-weather  covering  for  a  man's 
nakedness  for  a  month,  if  he  is  very  careful  and 
does  no  work. 

After  two  hours'  wear,  having  in  the  meantime 
obtained  possession  of  some  of  the  auxiliaries  of 
civilization,  and  being  anxious  to  be  rid  of  every- 
thing that  smacked  of  the  prison,  I  offered  the 
suit  for  sale  to  one  of  the  "sons  of  Zebedee;" 
he  said  "  It  was  no  goot,"  and  he  was  perfectly 
right.  He  thought  he  might  be  able  to  "  palm  it 
off  upon  a  flat,"  and  he  would  risk  a  crown  for  it. 
I  accepted  his  offer,  and  immediately  put  several 
streets  between  myself  and  the  last  relics  of 
prison  life. 

Report  of  the  Commission.  211 

I  fancy  I  hear  some  sagacious  reader  ask 
■whether  the  Boyal  Society  for  the  Aid  of  Discharged 
Prisoners  does  not  fill  the  vacuum  left  by  the 
Government.  I  would  preface  my  reply  with  a 
suoforestion  that  there  should  be  no  vacuum.  The 
class  of  men  who  would  appreciate  a  little  help 
on  their  release,  and  to  whom  it  would  really  be 
useful,  should  be  instigated  to  industry  during 
their  term  of  imprisonment  by  the  promise  of 
remuneration  for  any  amount  of  work  they  could 
perform  beyond  their  allotted  task.  This  being 
no  part  of  the  Government  programme,  the 
Society  might,  if  properly  managed,  play  the  part 
of  "Good  Samaritan,"  towards  men  who  are 
anxious  to  work  their  way  back  into  respectability. 
I  have  taken  some  pains  to  ascertain  whether  it 
has  assumed  this  great  and  humane  character. 

I  cannot  hear  of  many  cases  in  which  it  has 
been  really  useful  in  serving  its  unfortunate  clients. 
It  appears  to  be  a  mere  bank  in  which  a  man 
can  deposit  the  small  sum  allowed  him  by  the 
Government  and  receive  it  back  in  driblets.  The 
majority  of  discharged  prisoners  have  relatives  or 
friends  who,  however  poor,  will  give  them  food  or 
shelter  for  a  week  or  two,  and  they  hang  about 
the  oflBces  of  the  Society  day  after  day  for  two  or 

p  2 

212  Convict  Life. 

three  hours,  to  obtain  the  trifle  which  is  doled 
out  to  them,  and  which  trifle  they  too  often 
swallow  in  the  shape  of  beer.  The  bonus  which 
is  added  by  the  Society  is  given  only  to  those 
men  who  come  to  them  with  a  sheet  upon  which 
there  is  no  record  of  any  infraction  of  the  prison 
rules ;  and,  as  I  have  explained  elsewhere,  the 
men  who  are  best  able  to  avoid  report  are  the 
experienced  professional  thieves.  But  gratuity 
and  bonus  do  not  amount  to  much,  and  are  soon 
exhausted.  The  object  of  the  Society  should  be 
to  lay  out  the  amount  promptly  in  some  way 
which  would  enable  the  man  to  earn  a  living ;  or 
else  to  obtain  immediate  employment  for  him, 
and  expend  the  money  in  the  purchase  of  those 
necessary  comforts  which  will  enable  him  to 
pursue  his  avocation  without  anxiety. 

I  would  take  the  liberty  to  suggest  to  the 
generous  and  philanthropic  Duke  of  "Westminster, 
who  is  President  of  this  Royal  Society,  that  a 
committee  of  shrewd  and  benevolent  men  of 
business,  who  would  take  an  interest  in  promoting 
the  objects  for  which  the  Society  was  founded,  and 
who  would  in  turn  give  their  services  to  inquire 
into  the  nature  of  the  requirements,  as  well  as 
into  the  true  character  and   disposition   of  the 

Report  of  the  Commission.  213 

applicants,  would  be  a  far  more  effective  macHine 
for  accomplishing  good  than  an  expensive  '*  figure- 
head "  and  a  staff  of  red-tape  officials  of  the 
policeman  class,  whose  interests  are  concentrated 
in  the  salaries  which  they  draw  from  this  well- 
intentioned  engine  of  benevolence,  and  whose 
humane  instincts  are  controlled  by  official  routine. 

Section  41  refers  to  the  surveillance  of 
prisoners  discharged  on  licence.  Unfortunately 
this  bears  most  heavily  and  unequally  upon  the 
most  innocent  class.  The  well-intentioned  man, 
whose  desire  for  the  future  is  to  be  law-abiding 
and  industrious,  gets  into  a  respectable  neigh- 
bourhood, furnishes  his  correct  address  to  the 
authorities,  and  tries  to  get  work.  Very  often 
the  fact  that  his  whereabouts  and  antecedents 
are  known  at  the  police-station  nearest  his  resi- 
dence, and  to  the  police  employed  upon  that  beat, 
operate  most  injuriously  upon  the  man's  interests 
and  chances  of  work. 

Policemen  are  naturally  anxious  to  show  their 
acuteness  and  activity  to  their  superiors,  and  the 
man  with  honest  intentions  is  often  foiled  in  his 
attempts  to  gain  an  honest  living  by  the  assiduity 
of  the  police.  If  he  is  honest,  all  his  actions  and 
movements  are  open  and  above-board,  and  he  is 

214  Convict  Life. 

easy  game  for  policemen  who  desire  to  exhibit  their 
'cuteness  by  unearthing  a  ticket-of-leave  man. 
The  thief  gives  the  address  of  some  chum,  who 
is  prepared  at  all  times  with  an  answer  to 
inquiries,  and  successfully  eludes  police  vigilance. 
I  entirely  acquit  the  Criminal  Investigation 
Department  of  all  blame.  If  they  had  it  in  their 
power  to  appoint  half-a-dozen  men  of  education 
and  acuteness,  who  had  sufficient  judgment  to 
discriminate  between  the  different  classes  of 
prisoners  discharged,  and  to  keep  their  eye  upon 
them  without  opening  their  mouths  unnecessarily, 
the  honest  and  industrious  man  would  be  able 
to  work  his  way  back  to  respectability  without 
impediment,  and  the  man  who  has  gone  back  to 
thieving  would  be  more  readily  caged.  Such 
officers,  however,  could  not  be  hired  for  police- 
men's pay,  and  in  this  matter  the  authorities  are 
economical  in  the  wrong  place. 

I  never  forget  a  face,  and  in  my  walks  about 
London  I  continually  see  men  whom  I  knew  in 
prison,  who  are  evidently  bent  on  mischief.  I 
think  that  if  I  had  charge  of  a  certain  number  of 
the  men  discharged  in  London,  saw  them  on  the 
morning  of  their  discharge,  and  knew  their 
registered  address,  I  should  be  able  in  a  month 

Report  of  the  Commission.  215 

to  make  a  reliable  report  to  the  authorities  as  to 
their  proclivities  and  habits,  and  to  classify  the 
innocent  and  the  guilty.  My  tastes  would  alto- 
gether preclude  me  from  seeking  such  an  office, 
even  if  I  had  not  disqualified  myself  by  be- 
coming a  law  breaker,  but  there  can  be  no  doubt 
that  for  a  reasonable  remuneration  competent 
officers  could  be  obtained  to  do  this,  and  the 
result  would  be  the  protection  and  safety  of  the 
reformed  and  industrious  man,  and  the  rapid 
reconviction  of  the  rogue. 

In  sections  70  to  74  the  Commissioners  review 
and  admit  the  existence  of  the  evils  I  have 
pointed  out  as  to  the  contamination  of  young 
offenders  by  hardened  criminals. 

Clause  75  suggests  the  real  and  only  remedy, 
and  it  is  so  important  and  wise  a  suggestion  that 
I  give  it  in  its  entirety  : — '*  It  has  been  suggested 
as  a  remedy,  that  a  sentence  to  separate  imprison- 
ment might  be  adopted  as  a  substitute  or  alter- 
native for  the  present  sentence  of  five  years' 
penal  servitude.  We  may  assume  that  a  less 
period  of  imprisonment  than  three  years  could 
not  be  regarded  as  an  equivalent  for  five  years' 
penal  servitude ;  and  the  first  question  which 
arises  is,  whether  prisoners  could  be  detained  in 

216  Convict  Life. 

separate  confinement  for  so  long  a  period  without 
risk  of  injury  to  their  mental  and  bodily  health. 
In  Belgium  criminals  are  subjected  to  cellular 
imprisonment  for  much  longer  periods,  and,  it  is 
said,  without  injury;  but  without  laying  too  much 
stress  on  the  Belgian  practice,  concerning  which 
we  have  not  full  information,  we  may  point  out 
that  it  does  not  appear  that  prisoners  have 
suffered  unduly  from  imprisonment  in  the  county 
and  borough  gaols,  in  some  of  which  the  system 
of  separation  has  been  enforced  for  periods 
usually  not  exceeding  eighteen  months,  but 
sometimes  extending  to  two  years.  Upon  the 
whole  we  are  of  opinion  that,  with  certain  relaxa- 
tions during  the  latter  part  of  the  sentences, 
such  as  longer  hours  of  exercise,  more  frequent 
schooling,  and  visits  from  chaplains  and  Scripture- 
readers,  more  books  and  more  time  allowed  for 
reading,  more  fi'equent  communications  with 
their  famihes  by  letters  and  visits,  all  of  which, 
however,  it  must  be  borne  in  mind,  would  ma- 
terially diminish  the  severity  of  the  punishment, 
prisoners  might  be  confined  in  separate  cells 
without  serious  risk  for  as  much  as  three  years." 
But,  unfortunately,  the  Commissioners  do  not 
recommend  the  adoption  of  this  excellent  plan. 

Report  of  the  Commission.  217 

Clause  76  says  : — "  The  introduction  of  sucli 
a  sentence  into  our  criminal  code  would  have  the 
undoubted  advantage  that  a  considerable  number 
of  criminals,  and  especially  of  the  less-hardened 
class,  would  be  withdrawn  from  the  danger  of 
contamination  by  associating  with  other  convicts. 
But,  notwithstanding  this  advantage,  we  have 
come  to  the  conclusion,  after  carefully  weighing 
the  arguments  which  have  been  adduced  on  both, 
sides,  that  it  is  not  desirable  to  make  so  vital  a 
change  in  our  penal  system."  The  efficacy  of 
the  cure  is  admitted,  but  its  adoption  is  not 
recommended  because  it  is  a  vital  change. 
Surely  it  is  a  vital  change  which  is  needed.  The 
Commissioners  fear  that  the  difference  between 
the  two  years'  sentence  and  the  three  would  not 
be  sufficiently  marked,  and  that  the  dread  of  it 
would  not  be  so  great  as  of  the  five  years'  sen- 
tence. Now  the  present  two  years'  sentence  is 
in  practice  eighteen  months.  Three  years  would 
be  the  double  of  eighteen  months,  and  it  might 
be  understood  that  a  man  receiving  that  sentence 
would  have  to  complete  his  three  years.  If  three 
years  of  solitary  confinement  with  hard  and 
constant  work,  good  books  and  instruction,  and 
wise  advisers  will  not    reform  a   man,   will  any 

218  Gonvict  Life. 

sentence  do  it  ?  "Will  twenty  years  do  it  ?  I 
am  convinced  that  it  will  not ;  and  I  think  that 
those  of  Her  Majesty's  Judges  who  have  taken 
any  interest  in  watching  the  career  of  criminals 
will  entirely  agree  with  me. 

The  object  of  the  law  is  to  punish,  but  it  is 
also  to  reform  the  offender.  If  in  three  years 
an  offender  can  be  made  an  honest  and  indus- 
trious man,  why  should  the  State  be  longer 
burdened  with  his  care,  and  why  should  the 
commonwealth  be  any  longer  deprived  of  a 
wealth-producer  ?  If  in  the  sequel  he  proves 
incorrigible,  he  will  soon  be  re-convicted,  and 
should  then  be  treated  as  an  habitual  criminal, 
and  deprived  for  a  very  long  time  of  the  power 
of  preying  upon  the  community. 

I  have  carefully  studied  the  character  of  the 
different  classes  of  convicts  amongst  whom  I 
have  been  thrown,  and  I  am  certain  that  by 
the  system  suggested  in  this  75th  clause,  one- 
half  of  the  men  now  convicted  would,  instead 
of  being  contaminated  and  turned  into  brutes, 
be  transformed  into  honest,  and  sober,  and 
reasonable  beings.     Why  not  try  it  ? 

In  clauses  78  and  79,  the  Commissioners 
recommend   a   plan    of    classification,    which    I 

Report  of  the  Commission.  219 

admit  would  be  an  improvement  in  the  present 
plan,  but  not  a  great  and  effectual  improvement. 
They  suggest  the  classification  of  prisoners 
into  classes  according  to  the  nature  of  the 
crimes  for  which  they  are  undergoing  punish- 
ment, or  the  formation  into  a  separate  class 
of  those  against  whom  no  previous  conviction 
is  known  to  have  been  recorded.  There  are 
fatal  objections  to  both  these  plans,  some  of 
which  the  Commissioners  set  forth  themselves 
in  another  clause. 

An  old  and  hardened  receiver][of  stolen  goods, 
who  has  had  a  run  of  luck  for  twenty  years 
and  at  last  gets  caught,  is  not  a  fit  associate 
or  tutor  for  noviciates  in  crime.  I  have  met 
with  many  old  pickpockets,  thieves  of  the  worst 
class,  who  have  moved  rapidly  about  the  country 
for  many  years  and  escaped  detection.  These 
men,  thorough  adepts  at  their  trade,  and  able 
to  boast  of  a  long  career  of  undetected  crime, 
would  be  the  very  worst  associates  for  men 
who  are  really  first  offenders,  and  yet  they 
would  be  eligible  for  that  class. 

It  is  not  only  that  first  offenders  are  often 
very  bad  men,  and  convicted  of  very  heinous 
crimes,  but  that  men  convicted  for  the  first  time 

220  Convict  Life. 

are  often  experienced  thieves,  who  have  escaped 
detection  because  of  their  extraordinary  dexterity 
and  expertness  :  surely  these  would  be  the  very 
worst  companions  for  new  beginners.  Would 
they  not  urge,  as  they  have  often  done  to 
me,  that  if  a  thief  is  a  "  wide  "  man  he  need 
not  get  caught,  and  that  it  was  carelessness, 
and  not  keeping  his  eyes  open,  that  gets  him 
'*  nabbed"? 

There  is  an  old  man  now  at  Portland  who  was 
known  amongst  thieves  as  "  the  badger."  He 
worked  side  by  side  with  me  on  the  works,  and  I 
learned  a  good  deal  of  his  history  from  his  own 
lips.  I  remember  his  joining  our  party  on  the 
morning  after  his  arrival  from  Woking.  He 
was  immediately  recognised  by  three  profes- 
sional thieves  in  our  gang,  who  hailed  from  "  the 
smoke,"  which  was  his  name  for  London. 

He  seemed  to  be  very  popular  amongst  his 
old  acquaintance,  and  was  pronounced  by  them 
all  to  be  a  "  square  man."  He  was  a  notorious 
"  fence."  He  had  been  buying  stolen  goods  and 
furnishing  the  necessary  implements  for  burgla- 
ries for  more  than  forty  years,  but  had  until 
now  succeeded  in  eluding  the  vigilance  of  the 
police.     He  told  me  himself  that  he  always  had 

Report  of  the  Commission.  221 

*'  wonderful  luck  "  in  discovering  "  good  plants," 
or,  in  other  words,  "spotting"  places  where 
burglarious  entrances  could  be  made  and  some- 
thing worth  having  found.  The  "  badger  "  told 
me  that  there  was  scarcely  an  "  eminent"  thief  in 
London  with  whom  he  was  not  acquainted,  and  I 
am  very  sure  that  there  were  few  of  the  tricks  of 
his  trade  in  which  he  was  not  proficient. 

I  knew  another  man  who,  amongst  thieves, 
took  the  position  of  an  aristocrat.  His  name 
was  Shrimpton,  and  he  was  famous  amongst  his 
"  chums  "  as  having  been  the  hero  of  a  hundred 
successful  burglaries.  He  had  reduced  lock- 
picking  and  safe-breaking  to  a  science,  and, 
unlike  most  thieves,  had  out  of  the  proceeds  of 
his  infamy  provided  for  his  family  a  comfortable 
home.  He  resided  at  Brixton,  and  I  have  reason 
to  believe  that  his  family  were  well-educated  and 
well-clothed  and  fed.  Yet  this  man  was  without 
private  means,  and  had  never  in  his  life  engaged 
in  any  honest  industrial  pursuit.  He  was  a  con- 
stitutional and  scientific  robber,  yet  so  clever 
that  he  was  only  detected  for  the  first  time  when 
he  was  nearly  sixty  years  of  age. 

Another  fellow  whom  I  met,  and  who  was  the 
hero  of  a  long  career  of  undetected  crime,  hailed 

222  Convict  Life. 

from  Birminglaam.  He  assured  me  that  for 
twenty  years  he  had  made  heaps  of  money  by 
hotel  robberies  in  the  Midland  counties,  and  that 
he  never  allowed  an  excursion-train  to  leave  Bir- 
mingham without  obtaining  half-a-dozen  purses 
and  a  watch  or  two  from  travellers  who  were 
bustling  to  obtain  seats.  He  was  at  Portland 
under  his  first  sentence  of  penal  servitude. 

Now,  such  men  as  these  should,  of  course,  be 
classified  as  old  thieves. 

I  can  imagine  no  influence  so  bad  upon  those 
who  are  really  first  offenders  as  that  of  the 
heroes  who  have  for  years  succeeded  in  evading 
justice,  and  to  this  influence  these  first  offenders 
would  still  be  exposed  if  the  recommendation  of 
the  Commissioners  were  adopted.  Is  there  a 
'vj  better  plan,  or  one  more  likely  to  be  effectual  and 
to  succeed,  than  soHtary  confinement  with  shorter 
sentences,  harder  work,  incentives  to  industry 
in  the  shape  of  a  reward  which  will  give  the 
man  a  start  at  the  close  of  his  imprisonment, 
and  all  this  to  be  accompanied  by  some  sensible 
efforts  for  the  man's  intellectual  and  moral 
reform  ?  I  think  there  is  no  other  way ;  but 
it  is  a  subject  well-worthy  the  consideration  of 

Report  of  the  Commission.  223 

Clause  102  refers  to  the  prison  dietary.  I 
have  already  said  that  I  think  it  needs  but 
little  change.  For  men  employed  at  indoor 
labour  it  is  ample,  men  employed  in  the  open 
air  might,  perhaps  with  advantage,  be  allowed 
a  few  additional  ounces  of  bread.  There  are 
gluttons,  of  course,  who  would  never  have 
enough,  and,  as  the  Commissioners  state,  there 
are  degraded  animals  amongst  the  convicts  with 
such  depraved  voracity,  that  they  will,  and 
would  under  any  circumstances,  gorge  them- 
selves with  any  kind  of  filth  which  comes  in 
their  way.  In  the  prisons  where  candles  are 
used  it  is  quite  a  common  thing  for  the 
prisoners  to  eat  their  candles  and  sit  in  the 

In  the  party  with  which  I  worked  at  Portland 
there  were  half-a-dozen  men  who  fed  themselves 
daily  upon  snails,  slugs,  and  frogs,  and  they 
did  this  not  only  without  any  interference  on 
the  part  of  the  officer  in  charge,  but  to  his 
evident  amusement.  I  was  for  a  short  time 
attached  to  a  party  at  Portland  whose  duty  it 
was  to  drag  a  cart  about  to  collect  ashes  and 
rubbish  from  the  different  departments  of  the 
prison.     It  was  considered  by  a  certain  class  of 

224  Convict  Life. 

prisoners  quite  a  privilege  to  be  attached  to 
the  *'  cart  party,"  on  account  of  the  refuse 
food  and  poultices  which  could  be  fished  out 
of  the  infirmary  ashes.  To  men  of  this  class 
no  diet  would  be  sufficient,  but  it  may  be 
asserted  with  confidence  that  the  prison  fare 
served  out  to  them  is  better  in  quality,  more 
cleanly,  and  of  larger  quantity  than  they  have 
been  accustomed  to  enjoy  in  the  places  which 
they  call  their  homes.  It  is  not  wonderful  that 
when  so  large  a  number  of  convicts  feed  them- 
selves upon  disgusting  garbage  of  all  sorts, 
the  prison  doctor  should  be  so  constantly  in 
demand.  As  I  have  before  intimated,  his  posi- 
tion is  one  of  great  responsibility  and  delicacy, 
and  the  Commissioners,  in  clauses  110  to  112, 
make  some  very  wise  and  sensible  recommenda- 
tions with  reference  to  the  selection  of  thoroughly- 
qualified  practitioners. 

In  clause  119,  the  Commissioners  speak  of  the 
dark  iron  cells  at  Portsmouth  and  Dartmoor,  and 
admit  the  existence  of  all  the  evils  which  I  have 
described  in  connection  with  them — their  dark- 
nesSjthe  facilities  they  give  for  communication,  and 
their  other  evils.  I  do  not  know  whether  the  Com- 
missioners visited  Portland,  which  is,  I  beheve, 

Report  of  the  Commission.  225 

the  largest  of  all  the  convict  stations ;  but  they 
make  no  mention  in  their  report  of  the  cells  there. 
There  are  at  Portland  seven  distinct  prisons  or 
halls,  each  one  accommodating  about  an  equal 
number  of  prisoners.  In  the  seven  prisons  the 
whole  of  the  cells  are  of  corrugated  iron,  and 
offer  the  facilities  for  communication  which  I 
have  described.  Certainly  in  nine  out  of  every 
ten  cells,  holes  have  been  bored  to  render  talking 
more  easy ;  and  in  exactly  half  of  all  the  cells  in 
five  of  the  prisons  the  cells  are  so  dark,  that  read- 
ing, except  by  gaslight,  is  quite  impossible. 

At  clause  132,  the  Report  refers  to  the  inflic- 
tion of  corporal  punishment.  I  quite  agree  with  \/ 
the  author  of  "  Five  Years'  Penal  Servitude."  that 
there  arC'  a  class  of  convicts  who  dread  no  other 
punishment  than  this.  Every  Englishman  will  be 
glad  to  see  the  soldiers  and  sailors  of  England 
relieved  from  liability  to  so  degrading  a  punish- 
ment ;  but  if  my  readers  will  refer  to  the  descrip- 
tion I  have  given  of  the  character  of  large  num- 
bers of  the  convicts,  they  will  perhaps  perceive 
that  these  men  cannot  be  humiliated,  and  that 
nothing  can  add  to  their  degradation.  They  have 
no  moral  sensibilities,  appeals  to  their  reason  would 
be  of  no  avail,  and  as  to  their  conscience,  I  do 


226  Convict  Life. 

not  fancy  they  have  known  its  voice  for  many 
a  long  day.  There  is  one  thing,  and  only  one 
thing,  of  which  they  stand  in  mortal  dread — the 

Many  of  them  care  nothing  about  loss  of  marks, 
and  in  fact  prefer  to  do  all  their  sentences,  because 
they  are  released  from  police  supervision  :  loss  of 
food  they  do  not  like ;  but  the  cat  is  their  mortal 
aversion.  I  must  do  the  authorities  the  justice  to 
say  that  I  have  never  seen  it  resorted  to  except 
for  heinous  offences  ;  but  I  am  quite  sure  that  if 
its  use  were  abolished  there  are  a  certain  class  of 
prisoners  who  would  be  quite  uncontrollable.  All 
sorts  of  brutal  violence  towards  both  prisoners 
and  officers  would  be  common  but  for  the  fear 
of  the  lash.  I  know  this  from  the  admissions 
of  the  men  themselves.  A  strong  proof  of  its 
deterrent  effects  occurs  to  me. 

It  has  been  a  custom  for  many  years  at  Port- 
land for  the  prisoners  to  sing  songs  in  their  cells 
on  Christmas-night.  So  long  as  this  custom  was 
kept  within  bounds  it  was  to  a  certain  extent 
tolerated;  but  at  Portland  the  evil  grew  more 
obnoxious  and  unbearable  every  year.  On  the 
Christmas  of  1876  all  sorts  of  vulgar,  indecent, 
and  beastly  songs  were  sung  aloud,  and  the  prison 

Report  of  the  Commission.  227 

reverberated  witli  obscene  and  disgusting  lan- 
guage, shouts  of  defiance  to  the  authorities,  and 
the  free  use  of  damnatory  epithets.  On  the  fol- 
lowing day  a  good  many  men  were  reported  and 
subjected  to  bread-and- water  punishment,  loss  of 
marks,  &c.     This  had  no  effect  whatever. 

On  the  Christmas-night  of  1877  the  same  game 
was  not  only  repeated,  but  in  the  prison  called  F 
north,  in  which  the  Roman  Catholic  prisoners  are 
located,  the  blasphemous  and  obscene  language 
and  the  filthy  and  disgusting  songs  were  beyond 
all  description  horrible  and  hellish.  Mr.  Clifton 
was  called  up  after  midnight,  and  was  himself  a 
witness  of  what  was  going  on.  He  carefully  and 
very  properly  satisfied  himself  of  the  identity  of  a 
score  of  the  worst  offenders,  and  at  the  next  visit 
of  the  director,  and  on  the  recommendation  of  the 
governor,  these  men  got  "  two  dozen." 

On  the  Christmas-night  of  1878  perfect  order 
and  quiet  reigned  throughout  the  prison.  Com- 
ment is  unnecessary.  The  only  wonder  is,  that 
with  undoubted  evidence  before  them  of  what  is 
the  only  punishment  which  these  pests  of  society 
dread,  the  judges  and  prison  authorities  do  not 
more  often  resort  to  it. 

In  clause  142,  the  Commissioners  refer  to  the 
Q  2 

228  Convict  Life. 

question  of  evidence  given  by  warders  against 
prisoners  for  breaking  rules.  It  is  no  doubt  the 
fact  that  a  great  many  men  are  punished  on  the 
testimony  of  officers,  the  men  being  entirely  inno- 
cent of  what  is  charged  against  them ;  and,  for 
the  reasons  I  have  given  in  another  place,  un- 
principled officers  make  scapegoats  of  the  most 
guileless  class  of  prisoners,  and  almost  never  of 
"  second  timers"  and  old  thieves,  who,  on  the 
other  hand,  enjoy  their  confidence.  This  evil  can 
only  be  effectually  cured  by  the  exercise  of  more 
care  in  the  selection  of  officers,  and  by  paying 
them  better. 

It  would  be  of  course  dangerous  to  take  the 
evidence  of  prisoners  against  officers,  for  I 
regret  to  say  that  mendacity  is  so  very  general 
amongst  convicts,  that  it  is  considered  quite  the 
right  thing  for  a  man  to  say  ariything  which  will 
gain  his  end.  I  think,  however,  that  the  evil 
might  be  somewhat  checked  if  officers  were 
compelled  always  to  give  their  testimony  upon 
oath.  There  must,  I  think,  be  some,  even 
amongst  the  worst  class  of  officers,  who  would 
hesitate  to  swear  to  a  lie ;  though  from  my 
experience  of  others,  I  fear  they  would  not 
hesitate  to  carry  their  point  even  if  they  had  to 

Report  of  the  Commission.  229 

swear  upon  a  whole  stack  of  Bibles.  There  can 
be  no  doubt  that  vice  is  infectious,  and  I  believe 
that  a  large  number  of  prison  ofl&cials,  being 
themselves  destitute  of  a  very  high  morality, 
have  from  long  association  not  only  imbibed  the 
slang  and  the  mendacity,  but  some  other  of  the 
bad  qualities  of  habitual  thieves.  Convict  prisons 
are  Augean  stables,  which  require  a  great  deal 
of  cleansing  in  all  their  departments. 

At  clause  147  the  Commissioners,  speaking 
of  the  custom  of  corrupt  officials  making  money 
by  supplying  prisoners  with  tobacco,  recommend 
that  officers  should  be  subjected  to  a  search 
similar  to  that  adopted  in  the  Custom-House. 
It  does  not  seem  to  have  occurred  to  them 
that  in  public-works  prisons  this  would  not 
remedy  the  evil  at  all.  The  custom  both  at 
Portland  and  Dartmoor  was  for  the  officer  to 
"plant"  the  supplies  of  tobacco  upon  the 
works  outside  the  prison.  This  the  warder 
could  do  in  the  evening  after  his  duties  were 
over  and  he  had  left  the  prison,  or  in  the  early 
morning.  The  prisoner  was  of  course  informed 
where  it  was  deposited.  If  the  customer  hap- 
pened to  be  employed  inside  the  prison  walls, 
it  was  always  easy  for  him  to  find  a  chum  in 

230  Convict  Life. 

a  neighbouring  cell  who  worked  out-of-doors, 
and  who  would  for  a  consideration  act  as  his 
agent  and  carrier.  The  only  remedy  for  this 
in  public-works  prisons  is  in  the  selection  of  a 
better  class  of  officers. 

It  may,  perhaps,  interest  the  directors  of  the 
convict  department  to  know  that,  at  Portland,  a 
large  quantity  of  tobacco  finds  its  way  into  the 
prison  which  does  not  come  through  the  hands  of 
the  officers.  I  was  once  at  work  near  a  cluster 
of  huts,  which  were  occupied  by  Serjeants  and 
corporals  of  the  Engineer  corps. 

The  wives  of  these  men,  actuated  by  the 
kindest  of  motives,  were  accustomed  to  throw 
pieces  of  tobacco  at  night  where  they  knew  the 
prisoners  would  finii  them  in  the  morning.  I  did 
not  care  for  the  tobacco,  but  I  must  plead  guilty 
to  having  once  found  a  jam  tart,  carefully  wrapped 
up  in  a  London  evening  paper  of  the  previous  day. 
I  relished  the  tart,  but  I  gloated  over  the  news- 
paper. By-the-by  I  loaned  that  newspaper  to 
another  prisoner,  who  was  careless  enough  to  get 
caught  with  it,  and  was  reported.  On  his  appear- 
ance before  the  governor,  that  gentleman,  on 
inspecting  the  date,  exclaimed,  "  Dear  me,  you 
get   your  news  almost   as    soon   as   I  do.     You 

Report  of  the  Commission.  231 

will  have  three  days  and  forfeit  eighty-four 

Then  the  men  connected  with  the  Artillery 
corps  are  good-natured  sometimes,  and  prisoners 
are  able  to  make  a  much  cheaper  arrangement 
with  them  than  with  prison  warders.  The  market 
price  of  cavendish  tobacco  obtained  through  a 
"screw"  is  ten  shillings  per  pound,  and  even 
then  he  furnishes  the  very  commonest  description. 
Then  it  must  be  remembered  that,  when  he  ob- 
tains the  usual  five-pound  note  from  the  prisoner's 
friends,  it  is  the  rule  that  he  should  take  half  for 
running  the  risk ;  so  that,  including  his  profit  on 
the  tobacco,  he  gets  four  pounds  out  of  the  five. 
If  a  prisoner  chooses  to  trust  a  soldier,  he  gets 
his  business  transacted  on  more  liberal  terms. 

There  is  still  another  class  at  Portland  who  drive 
a  trade  amongst  the  "lags."  There  are  several 
free  men  employed  upon  the  works  in  charge  of 
horses,  which  are  necessary  for  the  removal  of 
trucks  along  the  trams.  These  men  are  not  paid 
directly  by  the  department,  but  by  contractors 
who  furnish  the  horses.  They  earn  about  four- 
teen shillings  a  week, — high  wages  for  Dorset- 
shire, but  not  so  high  as  to  make  them  fight  shy 
when  a  sovereign  is  to  be  made  out  of  a  "  lag." 

232  Convict  Life. 

I  recollect  two  very  good  old  fellows.  One  was 
short  of  an  arm  and  the  other  of  a  leg ;  they  both 
had  large  families  to  support,  and  the  only  chance 
they  had  of  providing  a  good  dinner  now  and 
then  for  the  bairns  was  by  indulging  in  a  little 
illicit  trade  with  the  *'  lags." 

In  other  clauses  the  Commissioners  in  re- 
ferring to  the  labour  of  convicts  allude  inci- 
dentally to  the  popular  delusion  that  there  is 
some  injustice  to  the  industrial  classes  in  allow- 
ing the  results  of  convict  labour  to  come  in 
competition  with  free  labour.  'Now,  of  course 
care  should  be  taken,  on  all  accounts,  that  no 
articles  produced  should  be  sold  for  less  than 
the  market  price,  but  taking  for  granted  that 
this  is  done,  no  injustice  would  be  done  to  any 
individual  by  making  convict  labour  remunera- 
vl  tive  and  profitable.  It  should  be  remembered 
that  all  these  convicts  ought  to  belong  to  the 
industrial  classes,  and  that  if  they  were  doing 
their  duty  they  would  be  taking  their  fair  share 
in  the  labour  of  the  country,  earning  their  bread 
by  the  sweat  of  their  brow,  and  adding  to  the 
wealth  and  prosperity  of  the  country.  Why,  in 
the  name  of  common  sense,  should  they  not  be 
made  to  do  this  in  prison  ? 

Report  of  the  Commission.  233 

Again,  if  all  the  convicts  were  earning  tlieir 
subsistence,  the  reduction  in  taxation  would  far 
more  than  compensate  for  the  infinitesimally 
small  difference  which  their  added  labour  might 
make  in  the  wages  paid  for  the  articles  they 
manufactured.  There  are  between  thirty  and 
forty  millions  of  people  in  these  islands,  but, 
fearfully  large  as  is  the  number  of  convicts,  there 
are  of  the  latter  not  fifteen  thousand.  One-half 
of  these  are  too  lazy,  or  too  impotent  to  work, 
and  the  labour  of  the  remainder,  even  if  it 
were  made,  as  it  should  be,  remunerative  and 
profitable,  would  make  no  sensible  difference 
to    the  industrial  classes. 

The  Commissioners  suggest  many  valuable 
reforms,  but  there  is  only  one  other  upon  which 
I  think  it  is  necessary  to  comment.  I  mean  the 
recommendation  that  suitable  persons  should  be 
appointed  to  visit  and  inspect  the  convict  prisons, 
and  overrule  and  rectify  the  mistakes  made  by 
governors.  As  I  have  said  in  a  former  chapter, 
there  is  now  an  expensive  machinery  in  the  shape 
of  a  board  of  directors,  which  is  almost  valueless. 
It  is  chiefly  composed  of  men  who  have  been 
governors  of  convict  prisons,  and  who  are  wedded 
to  the  stereotyped  abuses  connected  with   their 

234  Convict  Life. 

management.  The  Commissioners  recommend 
that  some  suitable  gentlemen,  members  of  Parlia- 
ment or  otherwise,  who  would  volunteer  for  the 
oflBce,  should  be  appointed  to  visit  and  inspect  the 
prisons.  The  suggestion  is  a  most  valuable  one, 
but  I  adhere  to  the  opinion  I  have  expressed 
before  that  the  present  board  of  directors  should 
be  superseded  by  some  one  responsible  head, 
whose  prejudices  should  not  be  too  favourable 
to  the  governors,  and  who  should  occupy  his 
time  in  visiting  all  the  prisons,  and  making  a 
careful  and  conscientious  investigation  of  all 
abuses  and  complaints. 

The  advantage  to  the  community  of  the 
Criminal  Investigation  Department,  under  the 
able  management  of  Mr.  Howard  Vincent,  cannot 
be  over-estimated.  He  will,  no  doubt,  if  not 
over-ruled,  originate  reforms  which  will  bring  the 
criminal  class  under  more  direct  control.  If  a 
man  of  similar  energy,  ability,  and  conscientious- 
ness were  selected  to  supervise  the  prisons, 
I  have  no  doubt  that  a  marked  reform  would 
soon  exhibit  itself  in  the  morale  of  both  oflScers 
and  prisoners. 

Convict  Life.  235 



IIST  what  I  have  said  in  the  preceding  chapters 
I  have  not  shown  sympathy  with  crime 
or  with  the  criminal  class.  I  certainly  feel 
none.  My  object  has  been  to  show  that  the  law 
has  to  deal  with  a  large  number  of  prisoners  who 
do  not  belong  to  the  absolutely  criminal  class, 
and  that  to  these  men  it  is  at  present  acting 
unwisely  and  unjustly.  It  is  not  only  in  the 
interests  of  the  prisoners  that  I  have  argued 
thus,  but  chiefly  in  the  interests  of  society. 
Thieves  are  a  pest  and  a  plague  to  the  whole 
community ;  and  if  I  have  proved,  as  I  think  I 
have,  that  convict  prisons  are  at  present  high 
schools  of  crime,  and  manufactories  for  thieves, 
then,  believing  as  I  do  that  statesmen  of  both 
political  parties  are  desirous  to  remedy  abuses 
when  they  have  found  them,  I  have  great  confi- 

236  Convict  Life. 

dence  that  measures  will  shortly  be  taken  to 
remedy  the  evils  I  have  pointed  out. 

I  know  that  it  is  very  easy  to  find  fault,  but 
fortunately  there  are  no  serious  obstacles  in  the 
way  of  reform.  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson,  in  his 
crusade  against  public-houses,  has  to  contend 
with  vested  interests.  He  has  to  fight  against 
a  well-disciplined  phalanx  of  brewers  and  pub- 
licans whose  interests  are  directly  opposed  to  his 
success.  Here  there  is  nothing  of  the  sort.  In 
the  reform  I  seek,  the  interest  of  every  man, 
woman,  and  child  in  the  community  is  directly 
concerned.  I  ask  the  Government  to  take  all 
those  stray  sheep  who,  under  the  influence  of 
drink  or  ignorance  or  poverty  have  wandered 
out  of  the  highway  of  honour,  and  teach  them 
that  their  own  interests  are  identified  with 
sobriety  and  honest  industry.  If  it  be  true,  and 
it  surely  is,  that  instead  of  doing  this  the  Govern- 
ment is  now  allowing  men  of  this  class  to  be 
tutored  by  old  thieves  in  all  those  cunning  arts 
which  will  qualify  them  to  be  professional  ma- 
rauders in  the  future,  why  I  need  add  no  argu- 
ment to  show  that  the  reform  should  be  prompt 
and  searching. 

First  of  all,  then,  it   is   necessary  that   there 

Suggestions  and  Summary.  237 

should  be  a  classification  of  prisoners,  and  in  this 
matter  great  discrimination  should  be  exercised. 
There  are  a  great  many  prisoners  who  do  not 
belong  to  the  criminal  class,  and  who  yet  have 
been  previously  convicted  of  some  petty  offence. 
This  is  especially  true  of  the  agricultural  class. 
Giles's  record  shows  that  he  once  had  a  month 
for  assaulting  the  police  when  he  was  drunk, 
and,  what  is  worse  than  all  in  the  view  of 
Quarter  Sessions  magnates,  he  has  once  been 
convicted  of  consorting  with  poachers.  Down 
the  poor  fellow  goes  for  seven  years,  most  likely 
the  best  seven  years  of  his  hfe. 

Take  another  case,  that  of  an  educated  man 
who  has  once  been  convicted  of  a  trifling  mis- 
demeanour, and  has  been  sentenced  to  pay  a  fine 
or  go  to  prison  in  default.  He  pays  the  fine, 
but  the  conviction  is  registered  against  him. 
At  a  later  period  of  his  life  he  commits  a  not 
very  heinous  offence  under  the  pressure  of  po- 
verty. It  is  felony ;  his  old  peccadillo  is  hunted 
up  by  the  police,  and  he  gets  seven  years. 

Now,  I  think  that  common  sense  says  that 
twelve  months  of  solitary  confinement,  with  strict 
discipline  and  good  reformatory  treatment,  might 
make  reputable  citizens  of  such  men  ;  but  if  the 

238  Convict  Life. 

taxpayers  are  to  be  saddled  with  the  cost  of  their 
families  in  the  workhouses,  and  themselves  in  the 
convict  prisons,  for  seven  years,  the  Govern- 
ment should  not  herd  them  with  the  professional 
criminal  class  to  which  they  do  not  belong,  and 
with  which,  although  they  have  broken  the  law, 
they  have  no  sympathy.  These  men  may  safely 
be  classed  with  any  men  who  are  sentenced  to 
penal  servitude  for  the  first  time  and  have  had 
no  previous  conviction;  and  they  are  equally 
amenable  to  good  influences. 

The  important  question  now  arises.  What 
is  to  be  done  with  incorrigible  thieves  ?  I  have 
suggested  that  three  or  four  years  of  solitary 
confinement  and  hard  work,  accompanied  by  good 
educational,  moral,  and  religious  training,  will 
reform  a  man  if  his  reform  be  possible.  I  do 
not  think  the  Government  need  trouble  them- 
selves about  the  contamination  of  re-convicted 
men  who  have  undergone  such  a  training.  They 
are,  practically,  incorrigible,  and  it  becomes  the 
duty  of  the  State  to  take  care  that  they  shall 
not  again  become  a  pest  to  society.  Why  should 
men  who  have  had  a  fair  chance,  and  yet  give 
proof  that  they  do  not  intend  to  exist  except  by 
plunder,  be  let  loose  again  upon  the  community  ? 

Suggestions  and  Summary.  239 

I  would  recommend  that  men  who  have  once 
gone  through  the  probation  of  solitary  confine- 
ment should,  upon  re-conviction,  receive  a  long 
sentence,  and  that  during  the  sentence  they 
should,  if  not  physically  incapable,  be  kept  at 
hard  and  remunerative  labour.  It  is  admitted 
that  except  at  Dartmoor  there  will,  in  three  years 
from  this,  be  no  out-door  employment  at  any  of 
the  existing  stations.  Now,  what  is  to  prevent 
the  Government  from  employing  these  incorri- 
gible thieves  in  mining  operations  ?  If  I  am 
not  mistaken  there  are  estates  of  the  Crown  in 
Cornwall  and  elsewhere  Avhich  might  be  made 
avilaable,  and  beyond  doubt  there  is  mineral 
wealth  in  Scotland  and  in  Ireland  which  is  only 
waiting  to  be  unearthed. 

My  idea  is  that  up  to  now  the  Government 
have  been  too  tender  in  their  care  of  incorrigible 
thieves.  Granted  that  minina^  is  arduous  and 
dangerous  work,  why  should  we  be  more  careful 
of  the  lives  and  limbs  of  men  who  have  given 
ample  proof  that  they  respect  neither  life  nor 
property  than  we  are  of  the  lives  and  limbs  of 
our  honest  and  industrious  fellow-countrymen, 
who  from  childhood  to  old  age  toil  on  in  honest 
industry,  not   only  bearing   their  own   burdens. 

240  Convict  Life. 

but  contributing  to  the  general  wealth  and 
prosperity  of  their  country  ?  Echo  answers — 

It  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  habitual  thieves 
have  any  dread  of  penal  servitude  in  its  present 
form.  Of  course  they  do  their  best  to  elude  the 
vigilance  of  the  police,  because  their  highest 
notion  of  happiness  in  this  world  is  to  be  free,  in 
order  that  they  may  prey  upon  society  and  spend 
the  proceeds  in  debauchery  and  drunkenness; 
but  if  caught  and  sentenced  to  penal  servitude 
it  its  present  form,  they  can,  to  use  their  own 
expression,  "do  it  on  their  heads."  Let  them 
understand  that  they  would  have  to  "do  it  on 
their  heads  "  in  a  coal-mine,  with  an  occasional 
taste  of  the  "cat"  as  an  incentive  to  industry, 
and  take  my  word  for  it  a  very  large  number 
would  be  most  anxious  to  give  penal  servitude  a 
very  wide  berth.  I  presume  the  Government  to 
be  anxious  to  abate  crime,  and  I  do  not  ask  them 
to  make  the  lot  of  tLese  re-convicted  men  harder 
than  that  of  tens  of  thousands  of  our  honest 
fellow-countrymen.  Why  not  give  the  experi- 
ment a  trial  ? 

The  question  will  then  arise  as  to  what  is  to  be 
done  with  them  after  ten  or  fifteen  years  of  mining. 


Suggestions  and  Summary.  241 

Well,  I  think  the  community  should  still  be 
protected  against  them.  I  see  no  objection  to  >/ 
compulsory  emigration.  An  island  colony  might 
easily  be  found  where,  if  they  were  willing  to  till 
the  ground,  they  could  obtain  a  subsistence.  Let 
the  Government  furnish  them  with  the  imple- 
ments of  labour,  and  with  the  necessary  means  to 
raise  the  first  crop,  and  let  them  be  given  to 
understand  that  they  would  have  to  live  under 
the  "royal  law"  that  if  a  man  will  not  work 
neither  shall  he  eat.  The  island  might  be  under 
military  law,  which  would  summarily  punish 
offenders.  If  they  determined  still  to  be  birds 
of  prey  they  could  only  prey  upon  each  other,  and 
would  cease  to  be  a  curse  and  a  nuisance  to 
honest  men. 

I  know  that  this  recommendation  is  revolu- 
tionary, but  if  by  a  revolution  in  this  matter 
the  thief  class  could  within  the  next  twenty 
years  be  reduced  two-thirds,  would  it  not  be 
a  wise  and  wholesome  and  economical  revolu- 
tion ?     I  have  entire  faith  in  its  success. 

I  have  studied  the  character  of  this  thief  class, 
and  I  am  certain  that  if  they  had  the  punish- 
ments I  have  depicted  in  prospect,  they  would 
try    to    escape  them,    and    as    a   last    resource 


242  Convict  Life. 

perhaps  actually  resort  to  honest  labour,  for  the 
means  to  live. 

The  Commissioners  at  the  end  of  their  recent 
Report  summarised  their  recommendations.  Let 
me  follow  their  example  : — 

1.  That  in  order  to  prevent  contamination  of 
the  less  -  hardened  convicts  by  old  and  habitual 
offenders,  or  by  those  who  perpetrate  enormous 
or  unnatural  crimes,  distinct  prisons  should  be 
provided  for  them,  and  a  special  reformatory 
discipline  instituted. 

2.  That  it  is  advisable  this  class  of  prisoner 
should  receive  shorter  sentences ;  and  that  as  it  is 
all  but  impossible  to  decide  what  prisoners  are 
morally  infectious,  the  system  should  be  solitary 

3.  That  the  work  of  this  class  of  prisoner 
should  if  possible  be  done  in  his  cell,  and  under 
the  supervision  of  properly-qualified  officers  of 
undoubted  integrity. 

4.  That  in  order  to  relieve  the  monotony  of  the 
prison  life,  and  at  the  same  time  to  afford  the 
prisoner  opportunities  for  obtaining  good  counsel 
and  intellectual  food,  he  should  at  convenient 
times  receive  constant  visits  from  the  chaplain 
and  from  properly-qualified  readers. 

Suggestions  and  Summary.  243 

5.  That  it  is  advisable  to  give  to  the  un- 
educated more  ample  opportunities  to  acquire 
instruction  and  improvement  by  tuition,  by 
good  books  regularly  and  appropriately  dis- 
tributed, and  by  periodical  lectures  during  the 

6.  That  it  would  be  wise  in  the  chaplains  to  urge 
practical  godliness  rather  than  doctrinal  religion, 
to  take  care  that  no  prisoner  makes  capital  out 
of  professions  of  piety,  and  to  cease  the  ad- 
ministration of  sacramental  mysteries  to  men 
who  it  is  well  known  accept  them  from  im- 
proper and  impure  motives. 

7.  That  while  the  work  done  by  the  prisoner 
should  be  earnest  and  unremitting,  and  calculated 
to  fit  him  for  a  life  of  industry,  it  should  also  be 
remunerative  to  himself;  and  that  as  an  incentive 
to  industry  the  prisoner  should  clearly  understand 
that  the  amount  he  is  to  receive  on  discharge  will 
depend  upon  the  amount  of  work  he  has  accom- 

8.  That  on  discharge,  a  prisoner  of  this  class 
should  receive  serviceable  clothes  of  good  quality, 
adapted  to  his  station  in  life  and  the  trade  he 
seeks  employment  in. 

9.  That  the    supervision   of  discharged    men 

R  2 

244  Convict  Life. 

should  be  entrusted  to  discreet  and  acute  officers 
of  good  judgment  and  education,  who  would  pro- 
tect and  encourage  those  whom  they  found  pursu- 
ing a  life  of  honest  industry,  and  seek  the  rapid 
re-conviction  of  incorrigible  thieves. 

10.  That  it  is  advisable  that  officers  entrusted 
with  the  control  of  convicts  should  be  selected 
with  more  care  and  discrimination  than  are 
at  present  exercised ;  and  that  it  would  be  wise 
to  appoint  in  the  place  of  the  present  directors 
some  one  responsible  head,  who  would  visit  and 
supervise  all  the  prisons,  and  carefully  report  and 
remedy  all  abuses. 

11.  That,  in  addition  to  this  alteration,  it  would 
be  well  to  adopt  the  recommendation  of  the 
Commissioners  as  to  the  appointment  of  Visitors 
unconnected  with  the  Convict  Department,  and 

12.  That  it  is  advisable  to  render  the  lives  of 
determined  and  habitual  thieves  who  are  re-con- 
victed more  distasteful  to  them,  and  that  it  would 
be  wise  to  employ  them  in  arduous  labour, 
which  should  be  made  remunerative  to  the  State. 

Lastly.  That  in  view  of  the  fact,  that  the 
number  of  professional  thieves  is  largely  on  the 
increase,    it   is  advisable   to   lessen    the   evil  by 

Postscript.  245 

providing  for  tlie  compulsory  emigration,  after 
a  certain  number  of  years  of  labour,  of  re- 
convicted men,  and  their  location  on  some  island 
where  they  would  have  no  opportunity  to  rob 
the  honest  and  industrious ;  and  where,  if  again 
convicted,  they  could  be  dealt  with  summarily 
by  the  infliction  of  corporal  punishment  under 
military  law. 

I  may  mention,  as  against  the  probable 
argument  that  this  last  recommendation  could 
not  be  carried  out,  that  the  Emperor  of  Brazil 
has  adopted  this  very  system,  and  with  eminent 


THE  Report  of  the  Directors  of  the  Convict 
Department  for  1878  was  issued  whilst  this 
work  was  in  the  Press.  In  it  there  is  an 
evident  attempt  made  to  whitewash  the  present 
system,  with  the  view  of  preventing  any  radical 
cbange.  In  reference  to  it  I  will  only  say  that 
all  the  evils  described  in  this  work  existed  in 
full  force,  not  only  during  the  year  to  which  the 

246  Convict  Life. 

Report  has  reference,  but  after  its  publication 
at  the  end  of  September,  1879. 

There  is  in  the  Report  an  intimation  that  in 
order  to  provide  labour  for  convicts  it  will  be 
necessary  to  inaugurate  some  new  public  works. 
The  construction  of  a  harbour  at  Filey  Bay 
upon  the  east  coast  is  hinted  at.  I  am  not 
prepared  to  say  that  such  a  work  is  not  a  great 
national  requirement ;  but  I  think  that  it  would 
be  well  for  the  guardians  of  the  public  purse 
to  keep  their  eyes  open,  in  order  that  no  scheme 
may  be  adopted  for  the  mere  purpose  of  creating 
labour  for  convicts.  If  more  millions  are  to  be 
spent  in  these  hard  times,  it  should  surely  be 
in  works  for  which  there  is  a  real  necessity,  and 
which  would  benefit  the  whole  community. 

I  would  also  suggest  that  whatever  may  be 
the  new  field  of  labour,  it  will  provide  a  good 
opportunity  for  removing  from  the  existing 
prisons  two  or  three  thousand  of  old  thieves  who 
have  been  convicted  for  a  second  or  third  time. 
This  would  be  one  important  step  towards  the 
separation  of  the  whole  brood  of  habitual 
criminals  from  men  of  whom  there  may  be  some 
hope,  and  who  are  not  altogether  abandoned  and 

Postscript.  247" 

In  the  Times  newspaper  of  September  30tli, 
also  published  after  this  work  was  in  the  Press, 
an  able  editorial  thus  comments  upon  the  system 
which  has  engendered  the  evils  depicted  in  these 
pages  : — "  The  fact  is  indisputable  that  convict 
prisons  are  excellent  cages,  but  very  indifferent 
reformatories.  The  Royal  Commission  has  pointed 
out  a  defect  in  the  classification  of  prisoners, 
which  is  partly  accountable  for  the  melancholy 
failure.  The  graduates  in  crime  love  their  art, 
and  console  themselves,  like  a  lame  actor  or  a 
hoarse  tenor,  with  teaching  it  to  freshmen. 
Hitherto  no  attempt  has  been  made  to  separate 
habitual  offenders  from  beginners.  A  consequence 
known  to  all  the  world,  except  perhaps  the  Home 
Office,  has  been  that  the  prisons  educate  as  many 
professional  criminals  as  the  receivers  of  stolen 

Referring  to  the  proposed  new  works  at  Filey 
Bay  the  same  writer  remarks  : — "  The  directors 
suggest,  as  a  mode  of  meeting  the  want,  that  a 
harbour  at  Filey  Bay  or  elsewhere  might  be  dug 
by  convict  labour,  or  that  a  large  convict  farm 
might  be  commenced.  A  prison  would  have  to 
be  built  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  works.  Such 
a  prison  could  hardly  be  monopolized  by  prisoners 

248  Convict  Life. 

convicted  for  the  first  time.  Habitual  offenders 
require  outdoor  labour  as  much  at  least  as  their 
juniors.  There  is,  however,  no  necessity  for  the 
erection  of  two  prisons,  provided  that  one  be  so 
divided  between  the  two  classes  of  criminals  that 
they  do  not  live  or  work  in  company.  Such  a 
separation  is  not  only  obviously  necessary,  but 
easy  of  accomplishment."  Upon  this  I  would 
remark  that  existing  prisons  can  accommodate 
all  first  offenders,  and  that  any  new  works  should 
be  made  the  exclusive  home  of  incorrigibles. 




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conjectured  from  its  title." — Queen. 

\  The  plots  are  well  conceived  and  cleverly  worked  out,  the  characters  too  are  drawn  with  a 
skilful  hand     ....     The  denouement  being  most  dramatically  told." — Pictorial  World. 

"'The  Felthams,'  a  story  by  Franz,  is  published  in  novelette  form- -that  is,  in  a  single  volume — 
but  its  length  exceeds,  nevertheless,  that  of  most  three-volume  novels.  It  is  a  tale  of  strong  intere,st, 
but  too  much  crowded  with  melodramatic  and  painful  details  to  suit  the  tastes  of  quiet  readers." — 

"Full  of  changeful  incidents  of  a  highly  sensational  realistic  kind,  'The  Felthams'  carries  its 
readers  briskly  along  from  chapter  to  chapter,  strengthening  the  interest  as  it  goes,  and  is  just  that 
kind  of  story  in  which  novel-readers  are  likely  to  take  most  delight.  The  character  of  Tightdraw, 
the  unscrupulous  spider-like  lawyer,  and  his  equally  unscrupulous  clerk,  Snigge,  are  amongst  the  most 
strongly  drawn  in  the  volume,  which  will  probably  become  popular." — Illustrated  Sporting  and 
Dramatic  Ne7vs. 

"A  novel  in  one  portly  little  volume,  moving  briskly  amongst  its  well-defined  characters,  with 
incidents  diverse  and  varied  in  their  nature  and  action,  is  tolerably  sure  to  be  a  favourite  with 
most  novel-readers.  It  is  exciting  without  being  morbidly  sensational,  and  never  falls  into  the  other 
extreme  of  milk-and-water  lameness  ....  'The  Felthams'  is  likely  to  be  popular." — Walter 
Pellutms  Illustrated  'Journal. 

"This  novel  will  enchain  the  reader's  attention  from  the  first  to  the  last  page." — Brie/. 

"The  story  is  thoroughly  wholesome  in  tone,  and  at  same  time  displaying  signs  of  genuine  power." — 
Public  Opinion. 

'•The  plot  is  well  sustained  throughout,  and  young  and  old  will  find  an  excellent  moral  in  the  talc." — 
Weekly  Times. 

"  A  tale  of  the  present  period,  full  of  incidents  of  a  more  or  less  startling  character.  Some — indeed, 
several — of  the  scenes  in  the  story  are  powerfully  and  vividly  depicted.  The  interest  in  the  principal 
personages  is  so  well  maintained  throughout  that  the  reader  never  tires  over  the  pages  of  a  somewhat 
portly  volume,  and  that  because  its  contents  are  entertaining." — Reynolds's  News, 

"  Among  stories  of  a  sensational  or  melodramatic  character  'The  Felthams'  is  entitled  to  a  respectable 
place     .  _.     .     .     There  is  good  stuff  in  the  book.".— .Jwwrfiriy  T'/w^. 

"  This  is  the  work  of  a  writer  belonging  to  the  school  which  the  productions  of  Miss  Braddon  have 
made  so  popular,  and  in  the  present  instance  there  is  sufiicient  of  mystery  and  plotting  to  satisfy  the 
most  exacting,  while  the  details  are  so  clearly  and  unobtrusively  worked  out  that  the  attention  of  the 
reader  is  secured  to  the  end  ....  The  novel  cannot  fail  to  please  all  who  admire  vigorous  and 
powerful  description,  accompanied  by  appropriate  and  well-written  dialogue." — Clerkenwell  News. 

"  The  '  crime '  which  figures  in  the  title  is  far  less  in  both  quantity  and  quality  than  that  which  engages 
the  attention  of  the  readers  of  lady-novelists'  works.  The  nervous  but  repressed  character  of  the  chief 
heroine  is  thoroughly  well  drawn  ....  A  double  thread  of  love-interest  runs  through  the  book, 
brightening  and  enlivening  it  as  only  such  interest  can  do  ...  .  The  young  girl,  Ellen,  is  a  most 
admirable  bit  of  work  ;  she  and  the  old  foster-mother  of  Ralph  stand  out  with  a  prominence  that  may 
serve  to  indicate  to  Franz  where  his  truest  talent  lies.  The  story  is  clever,  interesting,  and  carefully 
worked  OMt." —Sylvia's  Home  jfournal. 

"  On  the  whole  the  work  has  considerable  merit  ....  We  think  it  gives  good  promise  of  a 
futiire  performance  ;  at  least  two  of  the  characters,  those  of  the  lawyer,  Mr.  Tightdraw,  and  Mrs. 
Feltham  are  well  drawn." — Liverpool  Albion. 

"The  interest  is  well  maintained  throughout  the  tale.  The  judicious  arrangement  of  so  intricate 
a  plot  marks  undoubted  capabilities  for  storj'-telling." — Birmingham  Daily  Gazette. 

The  Felthams '    is   characterized   by   some   strong   and   many  good  points    ....     Crime  is 
contrasted  in  a  very  effective  way." — Edinburgh  Daily  Ne^vs. 

"  Franz  shows  considerable  dramatic  power  ....  There  are  other  characters  drawn  with  a 
skilful  hand  ....  the  story  is  skilfully  told  and  some  smart  pieces  of  character  delineation 
occur  in  the  book."— iVor/A  British  Daily  Mail. 

"It  cannot  be  said  the  story  is  a  very  pleasant  one,  though  those  who  delight  in  fiction  of  a  strong  and 
exciting  kind  will  probably  read  it  with  'vaX.ex^%l."— Newcastle  Weekly  Chronicle. 

74,  75,  Great  Queen  Street,  London,  'W.C. 


Wyman  &  Sons,  Printers,  Publishers,  &c. 

Library  Edition.     Demy  8vo.,  cloth,  price  los.  6d.       Cheap  edition,  crown  8vo.,  price  2S. 

Convict   Life  ;  or,  Revelations   concerning 


' '  If  only  half  of  the  startling  disclosures  made  by  this  intelligent  convict  be  true,  he 
has  made  out  a  strong  case  for  Government  interference." 

"The  author  claims  to  be  a  good  authority  on  the  subject,  because  he  is  now  a  ticket-of-leave  man.  A 
terrible  domestic  affliction  drove  him  into  dissipation,  and  the  end  of  his  madness  was  that  he  committed 
the  crime  which  made  him  a  convict  I'or  ses'en  years.  His  remarks  are  exceedingly  valuable.  He  shows 
himself  to  be  a  man  of  keen  perception,  and  a  good  deal  of  sound  common  sense,  and  it  is  strictly  true 
that  he  makes  out  his  case  in  the  majority  of  the  charges  which  he  considers  it  necessary  to  bring  against 
the  present  convict  system.  .  .  .  When  the  '  Ticket-of-leave- Man '  was  serving  his  time,  two  of  his 
associates  were  preparing  the  details  of  a  plan  which  threatened  ruin  to  foreign  bankers,  principally  upon 
the  American  continent." — Standard. 

"  Is  a  very  remarkable  book.  It  is  written  by  a  person  who  has  had  six  years'  experience  of  prison  life, 
so  that  he  writes  about  his  subject  with  the  knowledge  that  springs  from  painful  familiarity.  ...  It  is 
unquestionably  an  able,  a  suggestive,  and  powerful  book." — Daily  Telegraph. 

"It  may,  at  all  events,  be  said  that  the  author's  statements  are  definite,  even  painfully  minute  and 
specific ;  and  that  many  of  his  suggestions  for  improvement  must  commend  themselves  to  the  common 
sense  of  readers.  Our  prisons,  according  to  the  writer,  practically  corrupt  rather  than  improve  their 
inmates.  It  would  seem,  at  least,  that  the  police  authorities  should  be  interested  in  the  writer's  dis- 
closures."— Daily  Ne-ws. 

"  The  author  is  evidently  a  man  of  good  education,  and  he  has  contrived  to  shape  his  complaints  into  a 
well-written  and  interesting  book.  Many  strange  stories  of  prison  life,  and  many  heartrending  details  of 
progress  in  crime  are  given.  Like  most  painful  subjects  this  has  its  ludicrous  side,  and  one  cannot 
repress  a  smile  at  the  '  dodges '  which  the  old  hands  are  '  up  to '  in  order  to  avoid  work  and  get  into  the 
infirmary-." — Morning'  Post. 

"  Wholesale  accusations  of  favouritism  and  cruelty  are  brought  against  warders  and  governors,  and  the 
most  dogmatic  opinions  are  expressed  with  respect  to  the  whole  system  of  prison  discipline.  .  .  .  If  only 
a  portion  of  the  revelations  are  founded  on  facts,  Portland  must  be  a  scene  of  great  corruption." — Daily 

"There  is  such  an  air  of  sincerity  in  this  author's  book  that  the  alleged  experiences  which  he  relates 
are  well  worthy  of  consideration  and  inquiry.  ...  In  regard  to  the  liquor  traffic  he  has  some  strange 
stories  to  tell  which  would  be  profitable  reading  for  licensing  magistrates." — Echo. 

"  Despite  the  interesting  nature  of  some  of  the  author's  experiences  in  prison,  and  although  his  literary 
talent  is  by  no  means  despicable,  the  affectation  of  superiority  which  pervades  the  narrative  is  infinitely 
irritating." — Globe. 

"  A 'Ticket-of-leave  Man'  furnishes  some  remarkable  statements — statements  which  will  be  found 
exceedingly  unpalatable  in  certain  quarters,  and  not  a  little  alarming  in  others,  and  which  are  given  with 
a  vigour  of  enunciation  and  absence  of  reserve  which  should  betoken  conviction.  There  is  a  strong  case 
here  for  further  investigation." — AiJientrutn. 

"  The  book  is  not  without  great  value.  There  can  be  no  excuse  for  leaving  matters  as  they  are.  The 
classification  of  criminals,  the  enforcement  of  real  solitary  confinement,  and  the  dismissal  of  dishonest 
officials,  offer  no  difficulty  whatever.  .  .  .  The  suggestions  contained  in  this  book  are  well  worth  the 
consideration  of  the  whole  tax-paying  public,  and  will,  we  trust,  obtain  the  attention  they  deserve." — 

"  There  are  one  or  two  cases  in  which  he  brings  charges  against  certain  officers  who  could  be  easily 
identified,  and  these  charges  certainly  should  be  examined  into.  If  they  are  proved  to  be  false,  the 
author  should  be  prosecuted  for  libel,  and  his  book  suppressed.  If  they  are  proved  to  be  true,  he  will 
have  done  good  service."— Sa/ttrday  Review. 

"  After  the  perusal  of  this  volume  we  think  that  the  reader  will  come  to  the  conclusion  that  as  regards 
our  prisons,  there  is  much  need  for  reform,  that  they  cost  a  great  deal  too  much  money,  and  do  a  great 
deal  too  little  good.  It  is  the  merit  of  this  book  that  in  it  the  author  shows  how  persons  enter  prisons 
mere  novices  m  crime,  and  by  the  fostering  care  of  a  paternal  government  in  these  high  schools  of 
rascality,  leave  it  thorough  adepts  in  the  arts  of  thieving." — Literary  World. 

"  The  author  is,  he  assures  us,  a  ticket-of-leave  man,  and  his  chapters  unquestionably  indicate  an 
intimate  acquaintance  with  the  inner  life  of  Portland  and  Dartmoor.  His  object  is  to  show  that  our  jails 
and  penal  settlements  are  '  hotbeds  of  crime '  ;  and  his  facts  bearing  on  this  point  are  startling." — Truth. 

"  What  a  hell  upon  earth  a  convict  prison  must  be  !  It  would  be  a  wholesome  step  if  the  Government 
would  buy  the  copyright,  print  a  cheap  edition,  and  distribute  the  book  broadcast  throughout  the  land — 
in  every  counting-house,  in  every  office,  in  ever>'  manufactory,  nay,  in  everj-  school.  Assuredly  no  man 
or  boy,  after  reading  these  pages — more  dramatic  than  any  drama,  more  tragic  than  any  tragedy — would 
allow  himself  even  to  M/«.4  of  crime." — IVhiteltnll  Rerie^v. 

"  It  is  powerfully  written,  and  is,  we  emphatically  say,  one  of  the  most  startling  and  terrible  works 
ever  placed  before  the  public.  To  our  thinking  the  Ticket-of-Leave  Man's  words  bear  marks  of 
veracity." — Vanity  Fair. 

"The  book  may  find  many  readers,  for  it  is  as  interesting  as  revelations  of  crime  and  prison-life  can 
well  be." — May/air. 

"  What  we  most  admire  is  the  writer's  honesty  of  purpose." — Brief. 

74,  75,  Great  Queen  Street,  London,  W.C. 

Yv  yman  oc  sons,  Jtriniers,  t'UDiisners,  occ. 


An  Entirely  Novel  Work  on  Table  Decoration.     In  Folio,  with  24  Original  Designs  in 

Chromo-Lithography.     Price  Thirty  Shillings. 

Floral  Designs  for  the  Table : 

Plain  Directions  for  its  Ornamentation  with  Cut  Flowers  and  Fruit,  Classified  Lists  of 
Suitable  Plants,  Leaves,  Berries,  &c.  ;  and  Twenty-four  Original  Coloured  Designs  for 
decorating  Breakfast,  Luncheon,  Dinner,  and  Supper  Tables  at  a  moderate  cost. 

"We  have  no  hesitation  in  saying  that  the  work  of  Mr.  Perkins  now  before  us  is  one  of  the 
most  elegant  and  useful  gift-books  of  the  present  season.  The  very  cover  of  it  is  a  model  of  design 
and  execution,  and  the  whole  get-up  of  the  book  does  infinite  credit  to  the  Messrs.  Wyman  &  Sons, 
who  are  the  printers  and  publishers  of  it.  Most,  if  not  all,  the  designs  are  quite  novel,  and  many 
of  them  are  to  be  commended  as  much  for  their  extreme  simplicity  as  for  theu  exquisite  elegance." 
—  The  Queen. 

"  The  production  of  this  most  beautiful  and  instructive  volume  is  most  opportune.  It  consists 
of  a  series  of  directions  for  the  ornamentation  of  the  table  with  leaves,  flowers,  and  fruit,  and  it 
contains  also  classified  lists  of  suitable  plants,  berries,  and  leaves  for  that  purpose.  Some  of  the 
designs  are  most  beautiful  ones,  and  the  work,  as  a  whole,  is  a  most  unconditional  success.  We 
can  recommend  any  of  our  readers  who  are  in  want  of  a  book  on  this  subject  to  obtain  one  and 
judge  for  themselves.  Many  of  the  single  designs  are  worth,  to  host  or  hostess,  the  money  asked 
for  the  entire  volume.  The  binding  of  the  work  is  most  handsome,  forming  in  itself  a  table 
ornament." — Land  and  Water. 

"This  richly-ornamented  volume  comprises  a  series  of  original  coloured  designs,  with  directions 
for  table  decoration  with  leaves,  flowers,  and  fruit ;  and,  by  the  assistance  of  the  letterpress,  the 
reader  will  have  no  difficulty  in  perceiving  the  effect  that  is  mtended." — Daily  News. 

"  The  designs  for  the  decoration  of  dmner,  luncheon,  and  supper  tables  are,  with  scarcely  an 
exception,  perfect  of  their  kind,  and  some  few  are  absolutely  perfect." — Morning  Advertiser. 

"Much  taste  and  ingenuity  have  been  displayed  in  the  elaboration  of  the  designs,  and  a  fresh 
era  in  floral  table  decoration  will  be  inaugurated  by  the  present  work." — Court  Journal. 

■'The  book  contains  a  vast  number  of  very  pretty  designs,  and  a  list  of  the  plants  from  which 
the  decorations  are  to  be  selected." — World. 

"  The  letterpress  is  illustrated  by  a  series  of  illustrations,  which,  with  their  bright  colour  and 
artistic  design,  make  the  volume  itself  a  work  of  art." — May/air. 

Second  Edition,  282  pages,  demy  8vo.     Profusely  Illustrated,  price  is.  6d. 

The  Official  Handbook  of  New  Zealand. 

A  Collection  of  Papers  by  experienced  Colonists,  on  the  Colony  as  a  whole,  and  on  the 
several  Provinces.     Edited  by  Sir  JULIUS  VOGEL,   K.C.M.G. 

"  This  handbook  is  a  work  of  considerable  value  and  importance  to  all  who  are  thinking  of 
emigrating,  and  also  to  all  who  have  commercial  relations  with  our  rising  colony.  It  describes  New 
Zealand  from  a  New  Zealand  point  of  view,  and  has  the  advantages  of  being  thoroughly  reliable 
and  authentic." — Blackburn  Standard. 

Second  edition,  demy  8vo.,  price  is.  ;  post-free,  is.  i^. 

The   England    of  the   Pacific ;    or,    New 

Zealand  as  an  English  Middle-Class  Emigration  Field.  By  ARTHUR  CLAYDEN, 
Author  of  "The  Revolt  of  the  Field." 

There  are  Eight  Full-page  Illustrations,  a  Reprint  of  the  Letters  to  the  Daily  News 
on  the  "English  Agricultural  Labourer  in  New  Zealand,"  a  Narrative  of  a  Ride  on 
Horseback  through  the  North  Island,  Sketches  of  Settlers"  Homes,  and  a  variety  of 
interesting  particulars  respecting  New  Zealand. 

Price  IS.  6d. ;  p)Ost-free,  is.  7d. ;  pap)er  boards. 

A  Month  in  the  Coasting  Trade  : 

A  True  Narrative.     By  E.  A.,  J.  S.  C,  &  J.  A.  R. 

"  This  is  a  highly  amusing  account  of  a  cruise  in  a  vessel  of  small  tonnage  ....  and  worse  sea 
stories  have  been  written,  and  with  more  pretentiousness  about  them." — Liverpool  Mercury. 
"  The  work  is  very  readable." — Journal 0/  Comtiurce. 

74,  75,  Great  Queen  Street,  London,  W.C. 

Wyman  &  Sons,  Printers,  Publishers,  &c. 

Crown  8vo.,  cloth  gilt,  price  12s. 

Russia  in  1870. 

By  HERBERT  BARRY,  late  Director  of  the  Chepeleffsky  Estates  and  Iron  Works  in 
the  Governments  of  Vladimir,  Tambov,  and  Nijny  Novgorod,  Empire  of  Russia,  Author 
of  "  Russian  Metallurgical  Works." 

Contents  :  On  Mr.  Dixon's  Book  "  FreeJRussia"  ;  Old  Abuses  and  late  Reforms  ; 
The  People  ;  Towns  and  Villages  ;  Priests,  Church,  and  Emperor  ;  Sports  and  Pastimes  ; 
Manufactures  and  Trade  ;  Ways  and  Communications  ;  Siberia  ;  The  Great  Fair  of 
Nijny  Novgorod  ;  The  Central  Asian  Question  ;  Conclusion. 

Now  ready,  is.  6d.,  blue  cloth  ;  post  free,  is.  jd. 

Masonic  Points, 

Being  Authorized  Cues  in  the  Masonic  Rituals  of  the  E.A.,  F.C.,  and  M.M.  Degrees, 
and  of  those  in  the  Royal  Holy  Arch.     JV     By  Brother  JADU. 

Copy  of  Commu7iication  from  H.R.H.  the  M.  W.G.M. 

"  Freemasons'  Hall,  London,  W.C. 
25th  October,  1876. 
"  Dear  Sir  and  Brothkr, — I  have  this  morning  received  a  note  from  Mr.  F.   Knollys,  Private 
Secretary  to  the  Prince  of  Wales,  requesting  me  to  convey  to  you  the  thanks  of  his  Royal  Highness 
for  the  book  you  have  been  good  enough  to  send  him — a  request  with  which  I  have  much  pleasure  in 
complying. — I  am,  dear  Sir,  yours  fraternally,  JOHN  HERVEY,  G.S. 

"To  Bro.  JAdu,  74,  Great  Queen-street,  W.C. 

Demy  4to.,  price  6s. 

Tables  of  Roman  Law. 

By  M.  A.  FANTON,  Docteur  en  Droit.  Translated  and  edited  by  C.  W.  LAW,  of  the 
Nliddle  Temple,  Barrister-at-La\v. 

"  Here,  in  fifteen  Tables,  we  have  the  four  books  of  the  Institutes  of  Justinian,as  to  the  ancient  Roman 
law  regarding  persons,  things,  and  actions.  The  first  book  gives  some  general  notions  respecting  the 
meaning  of  the  words  Justitia  and  Jus,  and  treats  of  persons.  The  second,  relating  to  things, 
treats  of  the  means  of  acquiring  particular  objects,  of  successions  to  deceased  persons,  legacies,  and 
trusts.  The  third  deals  with  inheritances  and  obligations.  The  fourth  treats  of  obligations  and 
actions.     The  tables  seem  to  be  well  translated  and  clearly  arranged." — The  Builder. 

Second  Edition,  price  2s.  6d.,  cloth,  flush. 

The  Law  of  Mutual  Life  Assurance. 

By  THOMAS  BRETT,  Esq.,   LL.B.   (Lond.  Univ.),   of  the  Middle  Temple,  Barrister- 

at-Law,  late  Scholar  and  Student,  Trinity  College,  Dublin.      Reprinted  with  considerable 

additions  from  the  Review  of  October,  1871.    .To  which  are  appended  full  Reports  of 

the  Decisions  of  Lord  Cairns  in  the  Kent   Mutual  Society's  Case,  and  of  Mr.  Justice 

Fry  in  Miss  Winstone's  Case  in  the  Winding-up  of  the  Albion  Life  Assurance  Society, 

&c.,  &c. 

"  Any  one  interested  in  Mutual  Life  Assurance  has  a  clear,  reliable,  and  comprehensive  statement  of 

the  law  upon  the  subject  open  to  him  which  is  a  boon  at  any  time  and   especially  after  the  decision  in 

Winstone's  case." — Money  Market  Review. 

"  Mr.  Brett's  able  little  treatise  will  be  found  to  be  of  the  greatest  value  to  those  who  have  insured 
their  lives  or  are  about  to  insure  them  in  any  society  whose  articles  of  association  involve  the  principle  of 
mutual  assurance." — Statist. 

"  Mr.  Justice  Lindley,  in  his  admirable  book  of  the  Law  of  Partnerships,  has  paid  Mr.  Brett  the 
compliment  of  referring  to  the  present  work  and  correcting  his  own  by  it.  It  supplies  a  very  distinct 
and  long-felt  want  in  an  entirely  satisfactory  manner.  It  is  a  work  which  we  cordially  commend  to  the 
attention  of  all  who  are  interested  in  assurance  societies,  and  it  will  certainly  become  indispensable  to 
the  managers  and  other  officials  of  such  societies." — Birmingham  Daily  Gazette. 

"  Mr.  Brett's  accurate  and  concise  statement  of  the  law  is  of  interest  to  very  many  persons  who  desire 
to  have  trastwonhy  information  on  the  subject." — The  Northern  IVhig: 

"Will  prove  an  extremely  useful  work  to  those  interested  in  insurance  companies." — The  Hornet. 
"Mr.  lirett   undertakes  a  task  not  easy  to  fulfil.     But  his  studious  examination  of  legal  principles 
and  the  decided  cases  has  peculiarly  qualified  him  to  explain  them." — Public  Opinion. 

74,  75,   Great  Queen  Street,   London,  Y/.C. 

Wyman  &  Sons,  Printers,  Publishers,  &c. 


In  the  Press.  ; 

Printing  Machines  and  Machine  Printing. 

Being  a  Guide  for  Masters  and  Workmen.     Containing  Valuable  Hints  in  the  Selection  - 
of  Machines — Practical  Guide  to  Making  Ready — Preparing  Cuts — Cutting  Overlays — 
Rollers — Useful  Hints  in  Management  of  all  kinds  of  Printing  Machines — Details  of  the 
Construction  of  Machines,  &c.,  &c.,  &c. 

Second  edition,  crown  8vo.,  cloth,  price  5s. ;  post-free,  5s.  4d. 

The  Grammar  of  Lithography. 

A  Complete  and  Practical  Guide,  for  the  Artist  and  Printer,  in  Commercial  and  Artistic 
Lithography,  Chromo-Lithography,  Zincography,  Engraving  on  Stone,  Photo-Litho- 
graphy, and  Lithographic  Machine  Printing,  with  an  Appendix  containing  original 
Recipes  for  preparing  Chalks,  Inks,  Transfer  Papers,  &c.,  &c.  ByW.  D.  RICHMOND. 
The  proof-sheets  of  this  work  have  been  revised  by  some  of  the  most  eminent 
men  connected  with  the  Art  of  Lithography,  the  result  being  a  complete  and  reliable 

"  Up  to  the  present  time  there  has  been  no  handbook  of  the  art  of  lithography  worthy  in  any  way  of 
the  attention  of  the  practical  man,  except  the  English  translation  of  the  original  treatis&pf  Senefefder 
himself.  The  reproach  has  now  been  wiped  away,  and  the  trade,  as  well  as  amateur^^pwill  ever  be 
indebted  to  the  enterprise  and  judgment  which  have  produced  this  book.  It  was  compiled  under  circum- 
stances unusually  favourable  to  accuracy  and  completeness.  The  writer,  Mr.  W.  D.  Richmond,  formerly 
a  country  lithographer,  with  experience  of  every  class  of  work,  had  studied  the  correlated  sciences,  such 
as  chemistry,  with  a  view  to  understand  and  expound  the  principles  upon  which  lithography  depends. 
His  manuscript  was  set  up  in  type,  and  proofs  forwarded  to  a  number  of  experts  in  different  departments 
— men  of  great  technical  ability,  like  Mr.  Hanhart,  and  of  artistic  skill,  like  Mr.  Louis  Haghe.  The 
corrections  and  additions  thus  gained  were  considered  and  incorporated  together  by  the  editor  of  the 
Printing  Times  and  Litfiographer.  If  the  book  be  tested  in  any  particular  the  great  advantage  of  this 
process  will  be  apparent.  The  Grammar  is  thorough  in  every  detail ;  and,  in  fact,  may  be  recommended 
as  a  model  of  a  handbook  of  the  kind.  We  ought  to  mention,  also,  that  there  are  not  a  few  original 
methods  brought  before  the  trade  now  for  the  first  time,  besides  many  improvements  on  previously 
known  ones.  In  fact,  all  that  can  be  imparted  relative  to  the  lithographic  arts  by  verbal  instruction  is 
here  lucidly  and  succinctly  presented." — Printers'  Register. 

"  Lithographers  and  the  Printing  trade  in  general  are  greatly  indebted  to  the  care  and  practical 
supervision  which  have  been  bestowed  upon  this  work,  which  may  be  received  as  the  only  complete 
handbook  of  this  artistical  branch  of  the  Printing  business  which  has  yet  appeared.  The  Orammar 
is  very  elaborate  and  complete,  and  enters  into  every  necessary  detail  of  the  art,  together  with  many 
modern  improvements  as  yet  but  little  known.  Part  I.  is  confined  to  drawing,  transferring,  and  Printing  ; 
Part  II.  touches  machines  and  machine  printing.  The  book  is  tastefully  got  up  and  excellently  printed, 
and  altogether  is  most  creditable  to  the  firm  which  has  issued  it  to  the  trade." — Press  Neios. 

"  Its  author  is  a  practical  lithographer  of  many  years'  experience ;  and  he  has  certainly  acquitted 
himself  of  his  task  in  a  highly  creditable  and  workmanlike  manner." — Paper  and  Printing  Trades' 

"  The  work  of  Mr.  Richmond  fills  a  regrettable  blank,  and  the  author  has  taken  great  care  to  make 
his  book  as  complete  as  possible.  The  various  branches  of  lithography  are  studied  with  the  most  serious 
attention,  and  judiciously  treated.  The  author  has  by  no  means  lost  .sight  of  the  practical  side,  and  the 
clearness  of  this  remarkable  publication  is  another  title  to  the  attention  of  all  printers.  W«  address  our 
thanks  and  praise  to  the  author  and  editor.  We  are  happy  to  learn  that  the  Ty^oiogie-Tucierha.a 
obtained  permission  to  print  a  translation  of  the  Grammar  of  Lithography,  which  will  be  very  useful  to 
those  who  are,  unfortunately,  not  familiar  with  the  English  language.  We  hope  that  our  confrere 
M.  Tucker  will  authorise  us  to  make  some  extracts  from  this  French  translation  for  the  benefit  of  our 
readers." — Annates  de  rimprimerie. 

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selected  from  the  Portfolios  of  the  leading  Wholesale  Makers.     To  which  are  added  Ori- 
ginal Designs  by  First-rate  Artists,  comprising  various  Designs  for  Hall  Furniture,  Library 
Furniture,  Dining-room  Furniture,  Drawing-room  Furniture,  and  Bedroom  Furniture. 
"  This  will  be  found  an  invaluable  work  by  the  Master  Cabinet-Maker  and  Upholsterer." 

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Workshop   Management. 

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of  Workshops,  Trade  Charities,  &c.     By  FREDERIC  SMITH. 
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"  The  book  is  of  none  the  less  worth  because  the  author  happens  to  be  modest.  It  is  an  accept- 
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by  the  publishers." — /ron. 

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Enghsh  China  and  China  Marks : 

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Engravings  of  upwards  of  150  Marks. 

"  The  illustrations,  which  are  very  numerous,  include  marks  from  the  fifteenth  to  the  present 
century,  and  thus  furnish  a  key  to  many  of  the  puzzles  with  which  collectors  delight  to  concern 
themselves." — Ci'/y  Press. 

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Stereotyping  and  Electrotyping : 

Including  Steel  and  Brass  Facing,  Etching,  &c.,  with  descriptions  of  the  most  successful 
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Diagrams.  The  Papier-Mach^  and  Plaster  Stereotyping  Processes  will  both  be  treated 
exhaustively — containing  instructions  in  Moulding  and  Preparing  the  Type,  Blackleading, 
and  the  Making  and  Management  of  the  Battery  and  Depositing  Solutions  ;  together 
with  Descriptions  of  the  Machinery  and  Apparatus  employed  in  finishing  the  Plates. 

In  Preparation. 

A  Glossary  of  Technical  Terms  used  in 

Connection  with  Printing  Machinery,  giving  upwards  of  500  Definitions  of  Words  and 
Phrases  employed  in  the  Machine-room,  together  with  a  Description  of  the  various 
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Printing  Machine-room  which  has  ever  been  attempted. 

In  Preparation,  crown  Bvo.,  cloth,  price  3s.  6d. 

elling  and   Punctuation. 

A  Manual  for  Authors,  Students,  and  Printers  ;  together  with  a  List  of  Foreign  Words 
and  Phrases  in  common  use  and  their  Explanations.  By  HENRY  BE.ADNELL, 
Printer,  author  of  "  A  Guide  to  T)pography  :  Literary  and  Practical,"  "  A  Key  to  One 
of  the  Main  Difficulties  of  English  Orthography, "  &c. 

Second  Edition,  price  6d.  ;  post-free,  yd. 

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ENGLISH  ORTHOGRAPHY  :  Being  an  Alphabetical  Collection  of  nearly  3,000 
Words  resembling  others  in  Sound,  yet  differing  in  Sense,  Spelling,  or  Accentuation. 
Compiled  and  arranged  by  HEXRY  BEADNELL. 

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Art    Editor,    CHRISTOPHER    DRESSER,    Ph.D. 

Useful  alike  to  the  Connoisseur,  the  Antiquary,  and  the  Householder. 

The  Publishers  beg  to  call  the  attention  of  those  who  are  not  Subscribers  to  tl 
Furniture  Gazette  to  the  strong  claims  of  this  Journal  on  the  support  of  all  who  are  int 
rested  in  the  Furniture,  Upholstery,  and  Decoration  Trades. 

The  Furniture  Gazette  has  completed  the  Eleventh  Volume  of  the  New  Series,  ai 
is  the  recognized  organ  of  the  important  industries  it  represents — a  fact  shown  not  on 
by  its  continually  increasing  circulation,  but  by  the  steady  demand  for  space  both  in  i 
Literary  and  Advertising  Departments. 

Neither  labour,  care,  nor  expense  is  spared  in  the  conduct  of  this  Journal  to  secu 
matter  of  special  practical  value  and  interest  to  its  Subscribers.  Information  careful 
selected  as  to  technical  and  artistic  matters,  as  well  as  to  the  commercial,  scientific,  ai 
mechanical  branches  of  the  numerous  Trades  within  the"  province  of  the  Furnitu 
Gazette,  may  always  be  found  in  its  pages.  Amongst  the  subjects  thus  generally  treat( 
of  and  watchfully  recorded  in  its  columns,  the  following  may  be  indicated  : — 

Decorative  Works  in  progress  or  newly  coi 

The  various  Manufactures  appertaining  to  Furni- 
ture, Upholstery,  and  Decoration,  in  all  their 
numerous  branches  of  Wood,  Metal,  Porce- 
lain, Woven  Fabrics,  Paper,  &c.,  with  the 
Materials,  Tools,  and  Appliances  peculiar  to 

Working  Drawings  from  Practical  Authorities. 

The  state  of  Home  and  Foreign  Markets, 
with  a  special  view  to  Imports  and  Ex- 
ports,  and   the  fluctuations  of  Supply  and 

pleted,  with  careful  and  accurate   Descri 

tions,     illustrated,     where    necessarj',    wi 

Wood  Engravings. 
Changes  in  Fashion,  Actual  and  Prospective. 
Ecclesiastical  Furniture  and  Decoration. 
Art   Exhibitions,  Art   Schools,  and   Reports 

lectures  en  Art  in  connection  with  Furnitu 

and  Upholstery  Manufactures. 
Current  Prices,  Trade  Reports,  Tables  of  E 

Demand.  ports,  and  minor  Trade  Jottings. 

Suggestions  for  Useful  and  Attractive  Novelties  Legal  and  Police  Intelligence  affecting  the  1 

in  Materials  and  Manufactures.  presented  Trades.     News,  Notes,  and  Coi 

Recent  Patents  and  Improvements.  ments.    Useful  Hints.    "  Short  Ends  Conie 

Scientific  Principles,  Inventions,  and  Discoveries  for  Workmen.     Practical  Papers  by  Practi< 

affecting   Manufactures,   Materials,   or   Ma-  Workmen,  &c.   Correspondence.   Answers 

chinery.                                                                      |  Correspondents,  &c. 

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The  Furniture  Gazette  Diary  and  Desk 
book  for  1880. 

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adapted  to  the  requirements  of  the  Cabinet,  Upholstery,  and  Decorative  Trades  tliroug 
out  the  Country.  The  Diary  contains,  in  addition  to  the  usual  business  information, 
carefully-compiled  and  authentic  Directory  of  the  Trades  allied  to  Furnishing,  reprint< 
from  The  Furniture  Gazette. 
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and  tabular  matter  are  carefully  compiled,  and  a  useful  classified  list  of  the  furniture,  upholstery,  ai 

allied  trades  is  given." — Building  Neius. 

"Ought  to  be  on  the  desk  of  every  one  engaged  m  any  department  of  the  furniture  trade.     Besides  : 

excellent  diarj',  with  the  ordinary  general  information  of  such  publications,  we  have  a  good  bibliograpl 

of  furniture  and  decoration,  and  a  pretty  full  and  classified  list  of  the  furniture,  upholstery,  and  alli< 

trades." — Iron. 

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The  Printing  Times  and  Lithographer : 

A  Technical  and  Fine-Art  Journal,  devoted  to  Typography,  Lithography,  and  the  Repro- 
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The  Printing  Times  and  Lithographer  is  a  medium  of  communication  between  all 
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interests  to  serve,  it  is  not  the  organ  of  any  one  class  or  trade,  but  deals  with  every  topic 
impartially  and  fearlessly.  It  has  gained  a  high  reputation  for  the  great  value  and  inte- 
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while  gentlemen  well  known  in  the  Scientific  and  Art  World  co-operate  with  the  con- 
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Amongst  the  many  subjects  treated  of  are  the  Press,  as  it  is  affected  by  the  restrictions 
placed  upon  it  from  time  to  time  by  Government  Departments,  &c.  ;  the  Law  of  Copy- 
right as  it  affects  Newspaper  Proprietors,  Authors,  Publishers,  Type-Founders,  &c. ;  the 
advances  made  in  the  Art  of  Printing  ;  the  production  of  New  Publications  ;  an  account 
of  all  New  Inventions  ;  a  chronicle  of  Passing  Events  ;  the  management  and  progress  of 
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among  Manufacturers,  &c.  Its  pages  are  open  to  the  free  discussion  of  all  questions 
upon  which  its  readers  may  desire  to  interchange  opinions  by  way  of  Correspondence. 

The  Printing  Times  and  Lithographer  Aenxes  its  information  from,  and  circulates  in 
all  parts  of  the  World  ;  and  no  pains  are  spared  to  ensure  the  accuracy  of  its  intelligence, 
and  to  render  it  in  every  respect  worthy  the  support  of  Lithographers,  Letterpress  Printers, 
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Being  a  thoroughly-established  Journal — one  which  is  both  carefully  read  and  pre- 
served— and  possessing  a  large  and  increasing  circulation  at  Home  and  Abroad,  the 
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cation  of  the  Announcements  and  Advertisements  of  Type  Founders,  Printers'  Engineers, 
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various  branches. 

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The    Printing   Trades'   Diary  and    Desk- 
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The  Printing  Trades'  Diary  and  Desk-book  for  1880  is  compiled  with  a  view  to  meeting 
the  everyday  requirements  of  Principals,  Overseers,  and  Managers,  connected  with  the 
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as  affecting  Printers  and  Newspaper  Proprietors  ;  Tables  for  the  Printers'  Warehouse, 
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randa, &c.  &c.  Merely  elementary  information  is  avoided,  as  the  aim  of  the  compilers 
is  to  present,  in  a  convenient  and  accessible  form,  only  useful  matter,  which,  in  the  course 
of  his  ordinary  occupation,  the  master  tradesman  may  at  any  time  require.  All  the 
Reference  Tables  have  been  carefuUy  compiled,  and  the  Recipes  actually  tested. 

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